Kijiweni at the AMVCA 2016
Kijiweni at the AMVCA 2016
This wasn’t my first time in Lagos or at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards for that matter. In 2014, our first short film Shoeshine was nominated at the AMVCA under two categories – Best Short Film and Best Director. The latter coming as a pleasant shock being a 24-minute film up against the likes of Tosh Gitonga’s Nairobi Half-life and Shirley Frimpong Maso’s The Contract. Needless to say, it was extremely humbling to be recognized as one of the top directors in Africa at such an early stage in my career, the first step literally.
I didn’t win a trophy but then again, I never went looking for one.
The film’s presence solidified my belief in the work that Kijiweni is doing and its capability to break new ground across the continent.
Our second short film
This year our second short film Samaki Mchangani was nominated under the Best Indigenous Film in a local language Swahili. Again, a huge honour, as one of the characteristics of Kijiweni Productions is to provide a platform for the widely spoken language on a cinema screen.
Mwalimu Nyerere, the father of our nation used Swahili to unify the Tanzanian people across all ethnicities and race. As Tanzanian filmmakers it is our responsibility to maintain and strengthen that unification. Hence, to be nominated in such a category for a short film really was quite venerating. There were five films in our category, three Kenyan, Samaki Mchangani and Single Mtambalike’s Kitendawili. Decision was made by audience vote and Kitendawili emerged winner. Single aka Richie Rich has been acting in films for the past 18 years and as he said in his acceptance speech, this was long deserved. I agree with him and so do the many Tanzanians who voted for his film.
It was an illustrious night then on with the extravagant red carpet and the big performers who graced the stage including the likes of Ali Kiba, Yemi Alade, Flavour and Zonke (my personal favourite). In between commercial breaks, comedians from across the board made us laugh regardless of which part of the continent you’re from. At the end, a galaxy of confetti lighted the sky and wrapped all of us, winners and nominees in golden glitter. At that moment we were unified and the competition was but a space to bring us together in our cinematic struggles.
Many people have asked me what was the highlight at the AMVCAs and as simple as it may sound, my biggest victory was connecting with fellow Tanzanian filmmakers. Meeting the likes of Richie Rich and Ivonne Cherry (aka Mona Lisa) whose talents know no boundaries and Staford Kihore who is responsible for ground-breaking TV shows in the country was much more of a significant step in building an industry together rather than building yourself as an individual. Once within the country we were able to look at each other as comrades with a similar goal – to make good films for the people of Tanzania.
Unfortunately in our bourgeoning film industry there is a lot of suspicion, gossip mongering, division and lack of cooperation between artists. It is always so hard to get the big names to audition for films or try and work in new ways that cater to the film style as opposed to regurgitating the already existing. The AMVCAs was a reminder of sorts that we as Tanzanians are more than capable of telling great stories by ourselves but we need to work together.
As I write this, a feeling of hope and resilience is overpowering me. I believe that the landscape of Tanzanian filmmaking is changing by the second and we need to grab onto its harness and together lead it into the right direction.