Do the Africa Movie Academy Awards really Matter?

By Dapo Oshiyemi

The Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA’s) have come and gone for another year but do they really matter? Well the short answer is ‘Yes’ but with some major question marks… and while I might want to win a AMAA one day, I’m really not sure I want to put the dark statue of a woman throwing their hands up in the air on my mantle piece- that statue really does need a major African rethink, anyway that’s not one of AMAA’s biggest problems, the following are:

It’s out of season

The AMAA’s are like having a big party after everybody has gone home- Oh yes, you can still get drunk and dance all by your self but what’s the point. Film is a global business and after the Oscars nobody cares anymore in the industry. African films need all the international exposure they can get in this very competitive industry and the AMAA’s should be a show piece for African films connecting them to the global film industry not playing in a corner all by itself.

In fact the AMAA’s should take a leave from the BAFTA’s they moved the event to a prime spot just before the Oscars and bang, every studio, superstar, filmmaker, wanted to be part of it,  and guess what the BAFTA’s became relevant again.

It gives very little Box office boost to Films

The great award ceremonies act as a platform for filmmakers and studios to sell their films to the global film watching public. Sometimes generating huge amounts of Box office, just ask any filmmaker or studio that gets a nomination for an Oscar, BAFTA or Golden Globe, they could see their Box office numbers shoot up by anything between 25%-55%.

The Oscars- Getting a nomination as a huge impact on a film’s Box office
The Oscars- Getting a nomination as a huge impact on a film’s Box office

I took a look at all the films that have won or been nominated for Best Picture at the AMAA’s in the last five years and hardly any have had global box office success, this does not stand the awards in good stead, worse still is the fact that the 2013 Best Picture winner as not even been released in its home market and that is a no, no by anyone’s standards.

It lacks international TV coverage

Only a few thousand lucky people actually get to attend any world class awards event but millions more watch on TV, that’s where the money and prestige come from, for example almost 300 million people in 150 countries watched the last Oscar ceremony and the Golden Globes generates $21.5 million a year from its broadcast rights, all because people want to watch a ceremony that is a representation of their dreams, allowing them a few hours of escape from their daily lives.

The organisers of the AMAA’s need to understand that if this event is to survive and grow it needs to get into the living rooms of the millions of existing fans of African film across the globe but after 8 years the organisers are still no where near covering the whole of Africa let alone the UK or the US.

Its global Publicity is almost non existence

Publicity before, during and after is like the air we breathe to an event and all great events pay meticulous attention to its publicity machine, the AMAA’s should be no different but sadly that’s not the case.

The African Film industry is already a global force with millions of followers across the world from the West Indies, USA, UK, Australia to name a few but the AMAA’s are not keeping up, far too often people don’t get to hear about the event and this threatens its place and relevance in the minds of the public and the industry.

It needs a world class Location

Now, I have nothing against Bayelsa State, in fact I would like to thank them for the incredible support they have given the AMAA’s over the years, as without them the AMAA’s will not be what they are today, however, for the event to reach its full global potential it needs to move and there are only two places it can go in my opinion- Johannesburg, South Africa or Lagos, Nigeria.

The event has simply out grown the small Nigerian state of Bayelsa and the global image, power and prestige of Lagos or Johannesburg is really what the event needs to take the next step forward. Moving the ceremony will also ease some of the yearly logistical and accommodation problems the event constantly faces.

It does not attract the real Powers Players in the film Industry

You know who I ‘m talking about, the faceless types, the ones who you hardly see on the red carpets but they sign the checks for the superstars, greenlight the films to be made and distribute them to the general public, the people who can make or break a stars career- Yes, the Super Producers, Sales Agents, Studio Heads and Distributors these are the money people.

William Parker




Super Producer William Packer – The brains behind hit films like, Think like a Man, Obsessed & Takers





The AMAA’s really need to get away from bringing in the token African American film star and focus on attracting the power players in the global film industry- after all what relevance will winning an AMAA have if the people in the industry who really matter don’t get to know about it.  So just imagine for one moment getting the guy who signs Denzel Washington’s or Will Smith’s check, that’s what I am talking about.

The organisers must understand that the AMAA’s are the African film industry’s flag ship event but it will only remain so if it helps drive the commercial interests of the industry, which will attract power players, who in turn will attract the stars, they in turn will attract the audiences, who will attract bigger sponsors and make the TV rights valuable and there you go, you have a world class event.

It needs to become a true Academy

By its very definition an academy is a association or institution of people that work for the for the advancement of art, literature, or science, therefore the AMAA’s should be run by a strong collection of film people and at present that is not the case and the AMAA’s are poorer for it.

The organisers should take a serious look at the Oscars and BAFTA’s models and adopt a system that will encourage the building of a representative constituency that allows the greater participation of the people in the African film industry. If they do not let that happen then sooner or later the industry will demand greater involvement or simply build or find another event that will cater for their needs.

Again I have to say the AMAA’s are important but they will only remain so if the organisers understand that the event is there to serve the film industry and if the organisers make that their guiding principle and work hard towards achieving that objective then the event will grow from strength to strength, if they do not then something else will surely come along and take its place.


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