Five Takeaways From The 2023 AMVCAs

The good, the bad & the outdated?

On Saturday night, the 9th edition of the African Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) were held in Lagos, Nigeria. A dazzling showcase of the film industry, it brought several professionals for a night which was important for all the obvious reasons. Since hosting its inaugural event in 2013 the show presented by the African broadcasting company MultiChoice has become one of the most sought-after recognitions across the world of film, becoming a cultural phenomenon over its past eight editions.

The latest event was preceded by a spurt in Nigerian and African filmmaking, as evidenced in the emergence of several new voices, making an incursion into a most promising market. Cutting across entry from major streaming platforms such as Amazon and Showmax, indie filmmakers pushing the frontiers of storytelling, or the local Asaba films which play out endlessly on TVs across the country, the excitement prior to Saturday night set up the event to deliver transcendental moments.

Here’s our reactions to the prestigious award night, what happened and what else we think should have happened. 


If there’s any indication of how far off the critical mark the AMVCAs are, it’s in the general parade-like atmosphere of the whole event. Sure, glamour plays a huge role in major award shows but there’s always a general consensus that it’s the art that matters the most. At the biggest film awards in Nigeria, the art doesn’t matter as much as the glamour, evident in how most of the chatter is about who’s wearing what and not necessarily about if the winners are a strong representation of the best filmmaking during the year in review. Much like the last few editions, this year’s AMVCA was a multi-day event that featured several sub-events that focused on the glitz, and its finale pretty much carried on with the same spirit. So, are the awards really for film as art, or film as a conduit for celebrities to inundate us with eccentric fashion choices? There’s a balance, but it’s just not happening at the AMVCAs right now.

Dennis Ade Peter


During the period we now refer to as Old Nollywood, the template for storytelling was striking. Rural settings, overdramatic acting and cliche but flamboyant storylines made all the difference in our childhood, but things have changed. Out with the old, in with the new: Lekki bridge, suave bankers, affluence and money talk. These are the disparities between the films which win the AMVCAs and those that are actually shown on Africa Magic—it is African Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards after all.

However, it speaks to an implicit elitism how this is the upheld structure. Obviously, the quality of narration is better amongst the new filmmakers, but since the awards are by voters’ choice, how are people watching these Netflix films? It certainly doesn’t happen on Africa Magic, which means that the hardwork Asabawood puts into entertaining a large number of Nigerians across class lines are looked over, all in favour of the more posh alternative. It was further polarising to see an actress like Patience Ozokwor awarded a Lifetime award, while the structures that took her to the zenith of Nigerian film were nowhere to be found. A balance should be struck, and the earlier, the better.

Emmanuel Esomnofu


Showmax is going about its mission to amplify Nigerian (and African) stories with a remarkable verve. Of the ten nominations in the Best Television Series at this year’s AMVCA, five of the nominated shows are Showmax originals. The police and legal procedural drama, ‘Crime & Justice Lagos’, eventually won the category on Saturday night, perhaps the most deserving win of the entire awards. Starring Folu Storms and Jammal Ibrahim as the lead detectives of a special unit, the 6-episode series is a consistently engaging show that takes inspiration from a Nigerian society where crime is prominent but justice is often elusive.

Apart from the also-nominated ‘Single Kiasi’, none of Showmax’s original drama series—including co-nominated shows ‘Flawsome’ and ‘Diiche’, as well as the Scarlet Gomez-led ‘Wura’—have been renewed for a second season, despite all coming out to generally favourable critical reception. Perhaps it’s a numbers thing, as Showmax is still looking for an ubiquitous hit to move it ahead in the race for popularity amongst the several streamers jostling for attention in Nigeria. Regardless, this win and the other nominations at the AMVCA, which also included the reality show ‘The Real Housewives of Lagos’, should be an encouraging achievement for the Multichoice-owned streamer.



A major flaw from this year’s awards night is its current fan-led voting system. For years, the AMVCA has placed power in the hands of the audience at home, but this has not always represented our film industry and the best-in-class productions it creates. A resonant conversation in the aftermath of Saturday’s awards was that a lot of deserving actors and actresses were snubbed for their more popular counterparts.

The snub of Kunle Remi, even on the nominees list, was one such glaring omission. Considering ‘Anikulapo’ was nominated in all the major categories, and eventually won Best Overall Film, it’s a technical confusion how its lead actor manages to walk out without any awards. Critical and popular opinion holds up the strength of his character across that striking epic, not much like Osas Ighodaro, another controversial choice. Winning Best Actress in a Drama, the Nigerian’s success at the AMVCAs continues. Not many were convinced by her acting in ‘Man of God’, a movie whose scripting flaws weren’t particularly redeemed by the actors, save for Dorcas Shola Fapson. 

Tami Makinde


An essential mission of The NATIVE is spotlighting young, driven creatives from around Africa who are telling peculiar stories about the (their) world. Nora Awolowo fits every standard of that characterisation, and has been excellent for a while. ‘Life At The Bay’ was an introductory work to her oeuvre, a collaboration with the journalist Kiki Mordi which highlighted the issues of civil rights being perpetuated against native settlers at the Lagos-based Tarkwa Bay. Captured through the reflective lens of Nora, the people and stories came alive, and thereafter the arrival of an important new voice in Nigerian filmmaking was confirmed.

Last year, the 24-year-old took her work to new heights after working with the premier footballing body in the world, FIFA. Creating a documentary about Nigeria’s first time at the World Cup, it was an intense package which built on emotional touchpoints as much as statistical data and research. If anything, Nora’s star power was reiterated as another documentary from her, ‘Baby Blues’ was nominated in the same category. With ‘Nigeria-The Debut’ eventually winning at this year’s AMVCA, Nora’s first major award turns out to be a big one, and going forward it would be a thrill to witness the other forms of filmmaking she gets into.



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