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At AMVCA 2015, Trail Blazer Medal For Ojuju’s Director


jC.J. Fiery Obasi, the emerging movie director who helmed the ambitious movie Ojuju was last Saturday in Lagos presented with the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award (AMVCA) 2015 Trailblazer Award. Obasi received his award from former Trail Blazer winner Ivie Okujaye at an impressive award ceremony held at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos. The award will be Obasi’s third major recognition from the industry in less than 5 months. ‘Ojuju’, which he produced with Oge Ogwu was adjudged the best Nigerian film at the 2014 edition of the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) in Calabar, Cross Rivers state.
The Trail Blazer award is usually presented to an emerging talent and it is one of the two AMVCA trophies for which there are no official nominees. The other award is the New Era award, which has only been won by star actress Rita Dominic. But the Trailblazer Award is always a highlight of the evening as it comes as a surprise to the winner.
Okujaiye had remarked before she presented the award to Obasi that the award, which she received in 2013, had opened doors for her and that she hoped it would do the same for this year’s winner.
For C.J Obasi who busted into the scene at AFRIFF 2014, where ‘Ojuju’, the zombie thriller film, which he wrote and directed and which stars Gabriel Afolayan, Omowunmi Dada, and Kelechi Udegbe won the Best Nigerian Film Award, receiving the award was a huge surprise. “It’s an electrifying feeling,” he said, adding that the award will spur him to do more. C.J who is currently in production on his second feature film O-TOWN, a rags-to-riches-to-rags gangster story set in Owerri, also won The Restless Pitch competition that was held as part of the festival.
But the AMVCA award was not just about the Trail Blazer award. It was also about celebrating other films with Kunle Afolayan’s 2014 brilliant feature ‘October 1’ and The Audrey Silva Company’s critically acclaimed romantic feature ‘The Meeting’ as directed by Mildred Okwo emerging the big winners of the award event. ‘October 1’ got a total of nine awards including award for Best Movie of 2014, Best Director, Best Actress in a drama (Kehinde Bankole), Best Art Director, Best Costume Designer and Best Drama writer which went to Tunde Babalola while ‘The Meeting’, a 2012 romantic comedy which competed mainly with very new comedy productions including the ‘Last 3 digit’ received the Best Actor in a comedy award (Femi Jacobs), Best actress in a comedy (Rita Dominic), Best Supporting actress (Linda Ejiofor), Best writer in the comedy category (Tunde Babalola) and Best comedy movie award. However observers queried the decision of the organisers of the award not to adhere to entry periods for films. They wondered why a movie like ‘The Meeting’ that was released three years ago was nominated to compete with new movies. They asked why it was now convenient to have the movie in competition in 2015 and felt that it was really unfair on the part of the organisers to have the movie compete with newer productions, when it was on the strength of the movie that leading actress Rita Dominic emerged winner of the New Era award in 2013.
The other winners of the award night include Blossom Chukwujekwu who received the AMVCA for supporting actor for his effort in ‘Knocking on Heavens Door’ and OC Ukeje who was voted Best Actor in a drama for his effort in yet another very old and widely travelled production ‘Confusion Na Wa’. Directed by Kenneth Gyang and produced in 2012, observers also wonder why ‘Confusion Na Wa’, which has literarily won all the industry awards that is there to win including winning the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in 2013 and the Special Jury Prize at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2013 should be in competition in 2015. To be fair, they want organisers to be strict on time lines for entries.

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