For the second time, Malawi will have representatives at the regional Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCA), a brainchild of Multichoice.
Straight from the heroics of Joyce Chavula-Mhango where she managed to bag an award in the inaugural Southern African Film category in 2016 with her movie Lilongwe, Malawi has once again found itself in the fray after two local movies received nominations.
Once again Chavula-Mhango is in the running after her latest film Nyasaland won a nomination for Best Movie in Southern Africa.
She has been joined by Shemu Joyah whose film The Road to Sunrise has been nominated for Best Overall Movie and Best South African Movie.
Coming from a film industry which is yet to realise its full potential, the development is welcome to Joyah and Chavula-Mhango while it is also encouraging for other players in the local film industry.
It gives hope that with a little more focus, professionalism and sound investment, local filmmakers can still get recognised for their work and reap something from their sweat.
Chavula-Mhango said in an interview upon the announcement of the nominations on Sunday: “It is great news and an honour to be
nominated for the prestigious AMVCA.”
But while the movies are getting recognition at regional level, the story is different on the local front where the productions are yet to go on the market several months after being released officially.
Random interviews conducted in Blantyre indicate that many do not know the two movies.
Esnath Tiyesi, a Ndirande Township resident, said she has not watched the movies.
“I have read stories about the movies but I have never watched them. I don’t know if they are being sold,” she said, while claiming to have watched other Joyah movies in the past.
Anthony Phiri, another Blantyre resident, said the problem with good movie producers is that they control the movies too much.
“Imagine, I have gone around looking for the movie but I hear they are not even selling copies. I know it is about piracy but it is too much. We need to view the movies,” he said, adding that the two movies nomination is good news but it would be better if Malawians knew the movies as well.
Luckily for the two filmmakers, the two categories in which they have won nominations will not require voting. The limited access of the movies locally and lack of popularity would have played to their disadvantage.
But Joyah and Chavula-Mhango say the situation is working to their advantage as they are considering several factors including the dynamics on the market.
Chavula-Mhango said: “My strategy is to get the movie to as many festivals as possible then release it on DVD. I will stick to that strategy because I know in the end it will work out.”
On his part, Joyah said: “Most festivals do not screen films that are already on the market. We are hoping that by exposing the film in festivals, we will get an international distributor who can get the film abroad.”
He said another drawback is the way the local film market operates.
“Effective marketing is expensive. The consumption of the arts in Malawi also relies heavily on pirated products. That is why we are looking for an international distributor so that we can benefit from the experience and wider penetration,” said Joyah.
Both artists have remained coy on their chances of making it in the awards.
Joyah said: “It is going to be tough, therefore, I would not want to predict. But the fact that our film has been considered among the best six films out of the 3000 films which were submitted from the whole of Africa makes me proud. With or without the award.”
“Anything and everything is possible. I am keeping calm. It is a competition and there has to be one winner. Let the best film win,” said Chavula-Mhango.
The AMVCA were launched in 2013 as a way of celebrating the contributions of African filmmakers, actors and technicians to the success of the continent’s film and television industry. For the 2018 edition, several awards will be presented in 27 categories. Seven of those categories will be open to the public for voting and the rest will be decided by a panel of AMVCA judges n