AMAA 2014 submissions open

POLLY KAMUKAMA

Ugandan filmmakers seeking to get considered for next year’s edition of the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) have until Jan 15, 2014 to submit in their works.

According to a statement released yesterday, acceptable genres include feature length films, shorts and documentary entries. They must have been produced, premiered and (or) released between May 2012 and December 2013.

“Features may not exceed 120 minutes and shorts should not be longer than 40 minutes,” explained the statement, a copy of which has been availed to this blog.

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AFRICAN OSCARS: The AMAAs, now in their tenth year running, are considered the biggest film awards on the continent, and were established to award the most outstanding talents in African cinema.

Fondly known as the African Oscars, AMAA are widely regarded as the biggest awards ceremony in Africa, and are aimed at honoring and cerebrating outstanding film talents cross the continent.

Now in their tenth year running, the awards have undergone a series of rebranding to give Africa a bigger and glitzier ceremony next year. First, the category of Best Film by African Living Abroad has been dropped to make room for three new entrants – the Madiba Africa Vision, Joyce Banda award, and Best Director First Feature Film,

The Madiba award is named after fallen anti-apartheid hero and former South African leader Nelson Mandela, and will be given at the discretion of the Jury to a film that best advocates for a developed and peaceful Africa.

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ELIGIBLE: Escape From Uganda, a new film that casts both Indian and Ugandan actors and is produced by a Ugandan-Indian firm, could easily bag an AMAA, thanks to it’s superb production.

The Joyce Banda award on the other hand is endowed by Malawian President Joyce Banda and targets movies made by female filmmakers or those that positively depict women. The third category is meant to encourage young and upcoming film directors to continue striving for excellence.

There has also been a name change for two regular categories so as to honor two African cinema luminaries: Best Film in African Language will now be known as the Sembene Ousmane Award in praise of the great Senegalese writer and father of African cinema, while the Best Short Film has changed to Efere Ozako, a homage to the late Nigerian entertainment lawyer.

Uganda has consistently ranked down the pecking order in terms of representation at the AMAAs, partly because local filmmakers are naïve about submission procedures, but also because there aren’t really good quality works to compete on such a big platform.

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BRAVE: In Just Hours, which tackles the damning Priapism condition, is also a potential AMAA contender despite its moderate picture quality.

However, for the few occasions where Ugandan films have been nominated, the outcomes have been inspiring. In 2009 for example, Matt Bish’s debut feature Battle of the Souls, chronicling the power of Satanism, won two awards.

In 2010, Carol Kamya’s Imani, a cleverly told film that intertwines three separate storylines, topped the Best African Language Film category. And last year, 13-year-old Benjamin Abemigisha beat off stiff competition to bag Best Child Actor award for his cameo role in Patrick Sekyaya’s The Uganda.

Uganda’s chances nonetheless appear brighter this time around, thanks to a number of really cool releases this year. In the features category, Escape from Uganda and The Route could have a shot.

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QUEEN OF THE AMAAs? Rehema Nanfuka, seen here appearing in the Shakespeare play Macbeth, is the lead actress in Imani which bagged an AMAA in 2010. She could easily repeat the feat if she submits in her new film, Haunted Soul, written, directed and starring herself as a runaway wife of an LRA rebel.

But it is in the shorts category where Ugandans should bank most of their hope. Rehema Nanfuka’s Haunted Souls and Peter Tukei Muhumuza’s Walk With Me are certainly potential contenders, and so is Usama Mukwaya’s In Just Hours.

It’s however worth noting that the aforementioned Ugandan films by all measures look like underdogs compared to some of the other great films from across the continent. The likes of Grigris (Chad), Ni Sisi (Kenya) and Of Good Report (South Africa) will most likely dominate the nomination list due to be released early March. The awards ceremony itself takes place in Nigeria every April.

Submissions must be entered here www.ama-awards.com. Each completed entry form must be accompanied by all the supporting materials listed on the submission forms, including the synopsis of the film, the list of credits, 5 DVD copies of the film and proof of the right to submit.

For more information, visit www.ama-awards.com.

kamukamapolly@gmail.com

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