• Monday, May 27, 2024
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BusinessDay

10th AMVCA upset fans as jury selection raises bar

AMVCA: Onga celebrates talent, sponsors cultural day, best lead actress award

The 10th Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards glittered with glamour as movie stars graced the red carpet and daring outfits coloured the arena, but the ceremony will be remembered for more than just its dazzling visuals.

This year’s new jury selection process has sparked online outrage among fans and ignited discussions. The big winner of the AMVCA was ‘Breath of Life,’ which clinched six awards, including the coveted Best Movie category. Notably, it beat out the commercially successful ‘A Tribe Called Judah,’ which broke box office records with over N1.2 billion but failed to win in any category.

What set this year’s event apart was its method of selecting winners in the major categories: instead of relying on viewer votes, a panel of expert film industry professionals served as the jury. This departure has divided opinions.

Some, like Ife Aboyeji, expressed shock on X, “How Breath of Life won best movie over A Tribe Called Judah is shocking.” Others, like @chioma_mmeje, believe the win was justified, “The thing that Breath of Life did over every other movie was that it made us FEEL. The actors had emotional depth, and the storytelling enhanced it.”

Movies and their actors often rely on fan bases for recognition, making it easy to sway fans when it comes to voting. Previously, the audience votes favoured films with larger fan bases. Sources close to the award process claim this led to inflated votes, manipulation, and even paid voting without genuine viewership.

The AMVCA transformation for its 10th edition aimed to bring a fresh perspective to the evaluation process and align with global trends and benchmarks. Out of 28 categories, 17 were non-voting, and nine were audience voting categories, with the winners selected by a jury.

This new direction aims to recognise filmmaking excellence beyond commercial success. Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, a writer and critic who was an international voter for the 2024 Golden Globes and a jury member for the 2023 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, noted on X that the changes to the judging format gave a chance to films like Over the Bridge, Mami Wata, even Breath of Life.

He said: “Almost none of these films would have stood a chance if they’d allowed the… audience to choose certain winners. This, of course, means that the AMVCA is finally becoming an award that cinephiles might take seriously. It’s only taken 10 editions.”

While attempting to adjust its voting system, the AMVCA is also striving to balance fan involvement with industry standards. Its goal is to establish a reliable benchmark for future nominations and wins, ensuring that selections are based on merit rather than popularity alone.

It tolls the path of global awards like the Oscars and Grammys, which also use jury systems comprised of industry experts. Award shows like the AMVCA are significant on the African continent and should prioritise industry standards over mere popularity, industry experts noted. This means distinguishing between voting for entertainment shows like Big Brother Naija and recognising excellence in film or acting.

“If this pattern had shown up earlier, maybe the AMVCA could have helped more viewers find a certain type of film. Better late than never, I guess,” Aigbokhaevbolo added.

This year’s evidence suggests that the 10th AMCVA is the beginning of a new chapter for an award for which Africa’s movie industry has built a serious image.