As industry stakeholders begin the count down to the announcement of movies proposed for final screening for this year’s African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), feelers from the College of Screening which recently came up with 20 movies for the final screening, has revealed that Nigerians should prepare for a shocker. This is sequel to the fact that some of the rave movies hitherto favoured to clinch AMAA laurels may not make the final list.

The Chairman, College of Screening, Husseini Shaibu, recently advised industry-watchers, not to be caught napping in case the unexpected happens.

Already, Nigeria has 10 films in contention among the first 15, and five short films in contention for the various categories of awards of AMAA 2009, sponsored by the UBA, and Bayelsa State government, and billed for Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Saturday, April 4, Other countries in contention are Kenya with, 2 movies, while Egypt, South Africa and Uganda has one film, each.
Briefing journalists on the outcome of its two-week exercise which rounded off on February 16 in Lagos, Shaibu who was flanked by two other members of the college, Rumbi Katedza, ( Zimbabwe) and Armstrong Eombi ( Cameroon), also disclosed that the 20 successful works would be announced by an academy of international jurors at the biennial Pan African Festival of Cinema and Television ( FESPACO) opening in Quagadougou, Burkina Faso capital, next week.

Shaibu, who spoke on behalf other members of the college issued the red alert against the background of snide remarks, alleging bias, which trailed the results of last year’s competition. Granted that contested awards are not insulated from controversies, the Chairman explained that college had to lay the cards bare on the table preparatory to the final decisions of members of the academy, on who and which flick wins what.

While the 13-member college commended AMAA for impacting on the industry, given the improved quality of some of the entries, the screeners however slammed others who, according to them are still living in the past. ‘You could see people actually struggling with stars, trying to outwit one another with themes. There are wonderful films as well as terrible ones.

We also found out that some of our filmmakers are still living in the past, exploring themes, which do not glorify Africa,’ the critics observed.

For instance, Shaibu who is also the Media Relations Officer of the National Theatre/National Troupe of Nigeria disclosed that apart from technical flaws, many of the films were knocked out in the area of length. Unlike in the previous years when the screeners sat endlessly to watch films that ran for several hours, this year AMAA came up with a rule that any film entry should ran for more than 120 minutes. The position of the college on length, according to Shaibu was that many of the directors allowed time-wasting on set, coupled with the rule that no international award accommodates movies that exceeds three hours. ‘

For instance, we watched a film for 12 minutes. At the end of the day, we could not but give it a standing ovation. It tells you that all these things about producing a film in three or four parts could be done with.’ Apart from technical flaws, the so-called raves were faulted for putting advert insertions which often resulted in disconnect, with the plot, submission of bad market copies, and failure to add subtitles, where necessary.

‘ AMAA as a continental award should cut across language boundaries, so if we must use indigenous language, it must be subtitled.’ Shaibu counseled further, ‘ we should not be complacent with our films selling 50,000, or 100,000 copies in Nigeria. The award has grown to such a level that its wining entries are now exhibited at international film festivals.’

Toward the realization of this dream, AMAA has scrapped the Best Indegenous Film Award Category, where Yoruba Film often have an edge and replaced it with Best Film across Languages.
This new categorization, the organizer believed would further open-up the competition to other countries across the continent.