Kenya’s Soul Boy directed by Hawa Essuman bagged the Best Edited film in the star-studded AfricaMovie Academy Awards (AMAA) held amid pomp and colour in Yenagoa City, Bayelsa State Nigeria.
The award was a face-saver for Kenyan film who had landed nine nominations with eleven actors, filmmakers and journalists present in the imposing Gloryland Cultural Centre in the heart of Yenagoa City, Bayelsa Sate.
Receiving the coveted award on behalf of the editor Ngethe Gitungo, Kenyan filmmaker Rita Wacera thanked the Amaa judges for recognising the dedication and creativity that the postproduction team had put in the film.
“This is a great honour to Kenya’s growing command in the technical arena of filmmaking,” she said amid deafening applause of 2000-packed auditorium.
Soul Boy had six nominations at the Amaaa, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.
The film beat a host of other nominees, including Izulu Lami (South Africa), Sinking Sands (Ghana), Hopeville, Tango With Me, and Viva Riva Riva (DRC).
Soul Boy is about a 14-year-old Abila who lives with his parents in Kibera slums in Kenya.
One morning the teenager discovers his father ill and delirious. Someone has stolen his soul and Abila is shocked and confused but wants to help his father and goes in search of a suitable cure.
Supported by his peer friend Shiku, he learns that his father has gambled his soul away in the company of a spiritual woman.
The teenager doesn’t want to believe it and sets about looking for the witch.
When he finally discovers the witch in the darkest corner of the ghetto, he is given seven challenging tasks to save his father’s lost soul.
Abila embarks on an adventurous journey, which leads him right through the microcosm of his hometown.
Other Kenyans in the nominations were Best Documentary Long subject (Headlines in History) by Judy Kibinge and Best Short Film (Weakness) by Wanjiru Kairu.
The night’s surprise winner was Viva Riva from Congo, which won six including the Best Film, Best Actress in Supporting Role (Marlene Longage), Best Actor In Supporting Role (Hoji Fortuna), Best Cinematography, Best Production Design and Best Director (Congo’s Djo Tunda Wa Munga).
It was a truly glorious moment for Democratic Republic of Congo who was entering the Amaa for the first time ever.
Viva Riva is the first film made in Congo’s native Ngala Language in 20 years and it took the crew five years to complete.
The seventh award of the night for Congo was the best short documentary, After the Mine.
South Africa surged forward to run away with awards in six categories, coming second to Congo.
The country won in the following categories: A Small Town Called Descent, Best visual effects, Shirley Adams, Amaa Achievement in Sound, Izulu Lami Best Film in African Language and Best Child Actor, Hopeville – Best Actor in Leading Role. Shirley Adams also won the Special Jury Awards.
Ghana joined the brigade that denied Nigeria their silver last year with the film, Sinking Sand, which starred the Haitian born Hollywood actor, Jimmy Jean Louis from Ghana.
Sinking Sand won various awards including; Best Make up, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress in Leading Role.
For the hosts it was a rather anticlimax given the massive following Nollywood commands in the rest of the continent.
With over 50 nominations Nigeria wriggled through to win on two competitive categories namely the Best Sound and Best Costume with the film Inale directed by Jeta Amata and Niji Akanji’s film Aramotu.
The Nigerian Government aimed at injecting competition and motivation among Nollywood players endows the special prize.
Kenya swept the podium in 2009 with From a Whisper by Wanuri Kahiu, there were loud grumbling and whining about a foreign country scooping awards at a Nigerian home grown event.
Yet the Amaa 2011 decision vindicates Amaa as true African Oscar where merit counts.
The ambers of Nigerian politics with respect to the coming elections found some fan at the huge gathering with the incumbent Bayelsa State Governor Silver asking for votes for President Goodluck Jonathan who he described as ‘a true son of Bayelsa.”
Amaa founder and President Peace Anyiam also endorsed Mr Goodluck Jonathan for present and in her remarks challenged filmmakers in Africa and in the Diaspora to explore more stories that truly and positively project the continent.
Ms Peace expressed her desire to have Kenya host the Amaa Award ceremony in Nairobi in 2012 after the country hosted this year’s nomination.
“I will be coming to Nairobi and talk to all film stakeholders, Government and corporate with the view to working out a strategy,” she said, at the Best Western Hotel in Lagos when seeing off the Kenyan delegation.