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A Night of Glam and Stories: AMVCA 9 Celebrates Nollywood
The ninth edition of the AMVCA was a glitzy celebration of our films, stories, skits and fashion.
I chuckled at the recent suggestions that Nigeria needs a Met Gala. What is the AMVCA? The Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards is the biggest night in Nollywood, but the event is the talk of the town not only for celebrating film but also for the extravagant and ostentatious display of fashion by the who's who of the Nigerian entertainment scene There are even award categories for the best-dressed male and female.
At the AMVCA 9, Nigerian women celebrities took flamboyance to a whole new level, often combining Victorian and traditional styles in their outfits. I was particularly intrigued by the love for gowns with trains — even non-celebs at the event had dresses that needed to be carried. The men also didn't hold back, whether opting for traditional or English suits, or a hybrid of both elements.
While each attendee is strikingly beautiful in their own way, some looks leave a lasting impression. Big Brother Naija's Diana stood out with her angelic white gown which is adorned by her radiant skin and gorgeous red lipstick. Tobi Bakre, who received one of the night's coveted awards, looked very much the movie star in his pink tuxedo.
But it's not just about the outfits on the red carpet; some celebrities shine with their charisma and presence. Chidi Mokeme, a star of old Nollywood reinvented for a new generation, received a warm welcome with loud cheers as he walked in. His outfit may not have been the most colourful or shiny, but his infectious charisma made him stand out. Similarly, Bolanle Ninalowo, wearing a white suit that accentuated his well-formed pecs, had a similar effect. He even danced to the tunes of the photographers and reporters. As they hail him and call him by his nickname, Makanaki, he responds exuberantly, singing his own songs of praise.
I was a little surprised by such sweet exchanges between celebrities — new and old, big and small — and the media on the red carpet. While stars are often expected to be divas, larger than life, there was something different and intimate about ours last night. They were sweet and accessible while looking like a million bucks.
Watching these filmmakers being honoured and recognised, and seeing how much it means to them, was an incredible feeling.
Beyond the glamorous red-carpet moments, the ninth edition of the AMVCA truly celebrated the art of filmmaking and honoured our filmmakers. Witnessing Efe Irele almost teary yet over-the-moon during her acceptance speech conveyed the significance of this award to the industry. Osas Ighodaro looked stunned when she heard her name and was speechless on stage. “God is good,” she finally said when she found her voice.
Shouts of victory reverberated throughout the hall as Tobi Bakre and his entourage continued the celebration backstage a few minutes after he picked the award for Best Actor in a Drama. These moments of unbridled joy demonstrate the importance of awards like the Oscars and Grammys; they make people feel seen and validated. Now, the AMVCA has also achieved that. While these American awards often come with grand speeches, I appreciate that our winners are sometimes too stunned to speak. The industry has been starved of award nights that acknowledge filmmakers' work and influence their careers, so much that they don’t know how to react.
The most unforgettable moment of the night was when Patience Ozokwor received the Industry Merit Award. The entire hall rose to their feet, clapping in a standing ovation. Even Tiwa Savage's energetic performance couldn't get us all up. For decades, Ozokwor redefined what it means to be an onscreen mother — and although she mostly played the wicked mother (or stepmother or mother-in-law), we never got tired because each role, no matter how similar, was nuancedly portrayed and her presence was too striking to ignore.
Filled with emotions, Mrs Ozokwor said, “the ones who appreciate me and the ones who don't appreciate me, it doesn't matter anymore.” She was happy, grateful and astonished. She didn’t know about the award but had been convinced by friend and colleague, Charles Inojie, to travel to Lagos.
Sometimes, it feels like Nollywood doesn't receive the recognition it deserves. Although it is not a perfect film industry, it has been a source of pleasure since our childhood, if you’re as young as me — offering an opportunity to learn about our culture, forget our worries, and enjoy the magic of film. Watching these filmmakers being honoured and recognised, and seeing how much it means to them, was an incredible feeling.
However, an award night, especially in the world of film, would only be complete with a touch of drama. Fortunately, the AMVCA 9 was not short on controversies and debates about wins and losses. Nse Ikpe Etim, who lost in the Best Actress in a Drama category, tweeted a laughing emoji after Osas Ighodaro was announced as the winner. Social media has since been buzzing with discussions about the acting categories.
Another source of controversy was co-host IK Osakioduwa, who morphed into a low-budget Dave Chappelle with his aggravating jokes. A joke about the increasing trend of BBL among Lagos socialites, in which he namedropped Toke Makinwa, received rapturous laughter. However, a joke about Chidi Mokeme and a female co-star in Shanty Town created an uncomfortable silence. Osakioduwa asked Mokeme if he really did it — if you’ve seen the show, you know what he’s talking about — leaving the actor feeling uneasy. It was a tasteless joke from a veteran host who should know better, but perhaps courting controversies was part of the plan.
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