Organizers of the African Movie Academy Awards demonstrated courage and independence Saturday night when they declared banned film, Fuelling Poverty, winner of the Best Documentary Category of the 2013 edition of the awards held in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
The hall erupted in thunderous cheers after the documentary, which was banned two weeks ago by the Nigerian government, was pronounced winner, in an event which had top government officials in attendance.
The Minister of Tourism and Culture, Edem Duke, the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, and other government officials at the event looked on helplessly as the organizers declared Fuelling Poverty (Nigeria) as having prevailed over Gun To Tape (South Africa), Swimming The Zambezi (South Africa), Give Me Back My Home (Kenya), and The African Cypher Fly On The Wall (South Africa).
“This is an humiliation for the Nigerian government,” says Femi Falade, an Ijebu-Ode based writer and media consultant. “It is a shame that a man the government declared a person non grata is now being lavishly celebrated right in President Goodluck Jonathan’s home state.”
Micro blogging site, twitter, went agog with praise tweets immediately the documentary was announced winner in its category.
Others tweeted as follows:
Yunusxonline: Banned Fueling poverty wins best documentary at AMAA awards @rosanwo
The film, produced by Ishaya Bako in patnership with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), was banned by the Nigerian government on April 8 after the Nigeria Film and Video Censors Board, NFVCB, declared it a national threat, saying it was “highly provocative and likely to incite or encourage public disorder and undermine national security”.
The NFVCB therefore warned Mr. Bako to desist from distributing the film, a move described by critics as anti- democratic and a descent into the Gestapo style of clamping down on the media adopted during military regimes.
But before then, on March 15, it had been nominated for the AMAA, a highly competitive and arguably the most important African film event and awards. The film, also witnessed a massive spike in viewership on YouTube, a video sharing website.
After PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported the ban, activists on social media had urged Nigerians to go to the video sharing site to watch the documentary.
The call received massive compliance as the film rose from a low popularity level of about five thousand views to 46, 397 views, a development analysts and media rights activists have said might have been impossible if the NFVCB had let the film be.
The Federal Government “made a serious mistake,” Tive Denedo, the Campaign Director of the Media Rights Agenda said, “More people will now want to see the film.”
The AMAA Awards, which is currently ongoing in Bayelsa has Pete Edochie, Tunde Kelani, Emem Isong, Kanayo O. Kanayo, and Kenneth Okonkwo honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Find More Winners Below
Best Actress in a leading role — Florence Masebe
Best actor in a leading role — Justice Esiri
Best actor in supporting role — Gabriel Afolayan
Best Promising Actor Award — Belinda Efah for Kokoma (Nigeria)
Best Screenplay — Heroes and Zeroes
Lifetime achievement award — Pete Edochie, Eddie Ugboma, Osita Okeke, Tunde Kelani
Best Film by Africans Abroad — Last Flight To Abuja by Obi Emelonye for his film
Best Documentary — Fueling Poverty (Nigeria)
Best Short Film — Akosua Adoma Owusu by Kwaku Ananse (Ghana)
Best Nigerian Film Winner: Confusion Na Wa
Best Costume Design — Blood And Henna
Best Achievement in Sound Winner — Nairobi Half Life (Kenya
Best Achievement in Soundtrack Winner — The Last Fishing Boat (Malawi)
Best Diaspora Feature Winner — Stones In The Sun (Haiti/USA)
Best Achievement in Cinematography Winner — Uhlanga, The Mark
Best Achievement in Editing Winner — Heroes And Zeroes by Niji Akanni
Achievement In Lightning Winner — Moi Zaphira
Best Actress in A Supporting Role — Hermelinda Cimela (Virgin Magarida)
Best Promising Actor (Joint Winner) — Joseph Wairimu (Nairobi Half Life)
Best Child Actor Winning Movie: The Ugandan
Best Director Winner: Niji Akanni for the movie “Heroes And Zeroes
Best Picture — Confusion Na Wa, By Kenneth Gyang
More to Follow…