AMVCAs 2016: What my appointment as Head Judge means to East African filmmakers — Njoki Muhoho

Leading Kenyan film maker and script writer, Njoki Muhoho, who was named the head judge for the 2016 edition of the prestigious Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, AMVCAs, by the organizers has described the well-deserving appointment as “a gratification and a boost to the East African film industry.”
Njoki Muhoho
Njoki Muhoho

Muhoho spoke with HVP, shortly after a build-up event where representatives from M-net West and East Africa discussed preparations for the 2016 AMVCAs with East African filmmakers and members of the
press at Sarova Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, last Friday. She noted that despite the fact that the East African film industry is still undeveloped, the resolve of the organizers to choose her as the head judge cannot be unconnected with the need to recognize filmmakers from the region.
Being one time Kenya’s National winner in the M-net New Directions Africa talent search in 1999, Muhoho is one of the leading filmmakers from East Africa. She was named the head judge for the 2016 edition of the prestigious awards last Friday in Nairobi, Kenya.
“It is a great privilege for me to be chosen to head the panel of judges for the 2016 AMVCAs. “It’s also a great privilege for us in east Africa, considering that it is a task the organizers ensure they appoint somebody that has integrity and enough technical knowledge of the industry. For me, it’s a gratification to be named the lead judge. In east Africa, our television and film industry is still struggling to grow. We are far behind South Africa and Nigeria. So, for the organizers to choose the chief judge from east Africa, I believe a message has been sent to us that we are worth recognizing. We have made our marks and it’s a boost to the East African film industry,”said Muhoho.
Speaking from the perspective of having participated in the judging process of the three previous editions, Muhoho who won 2014 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards for Best Indigenous Movie/TV Series (Swahili) challenged East African filmmakers to take advantage of the new entry process and show the rest of Africa just how rich and exciting the region’s content is.
“The recognition that the AMVCAs bring to nominated and winning works cannot be quantified or overstated. The quality and quantity of the works entered have improved dramatically from the first edition in 2013. When you are nominated for an AMVCA, then you know you have gained continental and global recognition.
But you cannot gain this if you do not enter your work and this is why I urge all East African filmmakers who meet the criteria to enter their films and show the rest of Africa the amount of talent and creativity abundant in this region,” added Muhoho.
Regional Director for M-Net (West), Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, said Muhoho was chosen to head the panel of judges because of her vast experience in filmmaking and as a respected practitioner who has been on the panel before as a regular judge.
AMVCAs is a pan-African platform
According to her, “We have had a Nigerian head judge for the past three years and in the spirit of pan-Africanism, we are moving it round the continent. Ajoki has been on the panel before now as a regular judge. This year, we have elevated her to be the head judge. It is part of showing that AMVCAs is a pan African platform.
She’s not entering any film this year, and so, decided to give a non-Nigerian to be part of this process. She is a veteran producer. She is respected in the industry and she is on the board of film commission in East Africa. That’s why we chose someone we can uphold and showcase Africa, not just Nigeria.” Throwing more light on the AMVCAs 2016, the Channel Head, Maisha Magic East, Margaret Mathore who anchored the event announced that the organizers have added new categories this year, to boost the existing ones.
In her words, “The purpose of today’s session is to inform all stakeholders in the East African film and television industry of entries for the 2016 edition of the AMVCAs. This is particularly important, given that we have new categories for next year’s edition, and have also eased the entry process so that filmmakers across the continent can send in their works. For the upcoming edition, there are three new categories which are the best East African Movie, the best Southern African Movie and the best West African movie. All these are voting categories, and will exist side by side with the best overall movie in Africa. This is indeed an exciting opportunity for East African filmmakers to not only submit their films, but also actively contribute to the retelling of the East African story through their craft.
”The event also featured a lively question and answer session with participants commending the organisers whilst also posing questions on the AMVCAs including the entry, voting and judging processes, as well as questions on the AMVCAs’ future and the possible expansion of the event. To enter for the AMVCAs, filmmakers who have produced and broadcast, or publically exhibited their works from October 1st, 2014 to September 30th 2015, should prepare a two or three minute long showreel for an online submission.