Reviewing the Winning Movies of the AMAA 2023 Awards

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The 19th edition of the Africa Movie Academy Awards which took place on Sunday, October 29 at the Balmoral Convention Centre in Ikeja GRA, Lagos, saw a wide range of winners of movies that either stood out for their excellent cinematography, costumes, or storyline. 

The movies that stood out include;

Xalé (Best Custome Design, Best Film, Best Screenplay)

winning movies in AMAA 2023

A 2022 Senegalese thriller film directed by Moussa Sene Absa, It is the third film of the Sene’s trilogy focused on women. Set in Dakar, there were two 15-year-old twins. While Awa was determined to excel in her studies, her brother, Adama, dreamed of moving to Europe.

After their grandmother passed away, their uncle Atoumane became their legal guardian. According to their grandmother’s last wish, Atoumane tried to marry his unwilling cousin Fatou. But when Fatou refused, Atoumane’s anger fell upon Awa, leading to a series of events that changed both of their lives forever.

Mami Wata (Best Nigerian Film, Best Make-up, Best Cinematography)

Obasi's "Mami Wata"

A 2023 black-and-white fantasy thriller film written and directed by C.J. “Fiery” Obasi, Mami Wata is based on West African folklore.

The story follows a once peaceful village, where two sisters face a challenge when outside troubles disrupt their harmony. Together, they bravely fight to rescue their people and bring back the mermaid goddess’s lost glory to their homeland.

Le Spectre de Boko Haram (Best Documentary)

AMAA 2023

A 2023 Cameroonian documentary film written and directed by Cyrielle Raingou, Le Spectre de BokoHaram makes Raingou her first directorial feature film.

In Northern Cameroon, three school children, Falta Souleymane, Ibrahim Alilou, and Mohamad Alilou, face constant threats from the terrorist organization Boko Haram. Despite the dangers, they all yearn for peaceful lives.

Though Falta displays remarkable maturity after losing her father to the terrorists, Ibrahim and Mohamad struggle with the aftermath of their traumatic past, having been separated from their parents.

Lions (Best Short Film)

AMAA 2023 film movie

A drama film directed by Beru Tessema, Lions has been screened at a number of film festivals.

The film follows a young Black couple in Britain whose lives are shaken when a misunderstanding with two window cleaners leads to a big conflict.

It explores issues like race, class, and community, showing the challenges Black people face in the UK. People have praised its genuine depiction of Black life, strong acting, and its honest take on social problems.

Jabari (Best Animation)

Directed and produced by Francis Yushua Brown and Dante Kaba, respectively, Jabari is a 90-minute 3D animated movie.

It follows the adventurous journey of Jabari, an orphan boy raised by Hem-Netjer. Trained in wisdom, knowledge, and sorcery, he becomes a skilled warrior.

When he uncovers the secrets of his birth and his parents’ fate, he embarks on a quest to unveil the truth of his destiny, confronting formidable mystical giants from the depths of hell. To triumph, he must demonstrate cleverness, resourcefulness, and an understanding of his own capabilities and weaknesses.

Aníkúlápó (Film in African Language, Best Production Design)

Written, produced, and directed by Kunle Afolayan, Aníkúlápó is a 2022 Nigerian Yoruba-language historical epic drama film

The story follows the legend of Saro (Kunle Remi), a warrior prince of Oyo who was resurrected by a mystical bird called Akala.

Fight Like a Girl (Best Soundtrack)

Directed by Matthew Leutwyler, Fight Like a Girl is a 2023 Congolese film based on a true story.

The film follows the journey of Aminata (Ama Qamata), who is forced to work in an illegal mineral mine as a child. After escaping her captors, she finds a new life for herself as a professional boxer in the border city of Goma.

It reveals the harsh realities of life in the Democratic Republic of Congo and shows how sports can bring people together.

Gangs of Lagos (Best Visual Effects)

Directed by Jadesola Osiberu, Gangs of Lagos is a crime drama that reflects the lives of gang members as well as the ghetto community life in western Nigeria.

The plot of the story revolves around three friends involved in the dangerous world of gang warfare in Isale Eko, a notoriously rough neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria.

Our Father, the Devil (Best Diaspora Feature)

A 2023 psychology thriller directed by Ellie Foumbi, Our Father, the Devil explores complex themes of trauma, revenge, and redemption. 

The story centers around a Guinean refugee (Babetida Sadjo) living in southern France, who encounters a figure, (who is now a Catholic priest) from her past, a warlord responsible for the death of her family. Marie imprisons the man in her cottage outpost, unleashing her inner brutality.

Sira (Best Achievement in Sound)

Directed by Apolline Traoré, Sira is a 2023 drama film that explores the themes of terrorism, displacement, abuse, and female empowerment. 

The film centers around Sira, a young Burkinabé woman. In the vast Sahel, she heads to meet her groom when Islamist terrorists attack her group, leaving her family dead. Yéré, their leader, took her, raped her, and left her for dead.

Alone in the desert, she found refuge in a cave, determined to survive and reclaim her stolen life.

Raw Materials (Best Diaspora Short Film)

A 2022 coming-of-age drama directed by Sosiessia Nixon, Raw Materials explores the themes of sexual identity.

The story centers around sixteen-year-old Malik, a gifted fashion designer, who struggles with an oppressive community that tags him as gay. Despite the hurtful labels and an environment fraught with abuse, Malik fights to find his path and embrace his unique talent and identity.

Sound of the Police (Best Diaspora Documentary)

Directed by Stanley Nelson Jr., Sound of the Police is a crime documentary that highlights the ordeals of the African-American community with the legal enforcement force since the times of slavery till now.

Kofa (Film By An African Abroad)

Directed by Jude Idada, Kofa is a 2022 thriller film.

In a poorly lit room, eight individuals awaken, and their memories a blank slate, remembering only their names. With growing dread, they try to unravel the mystery of their confinement, as a figure begins to pick them off. Determined, they join forces to overpower their captor and hatch a daring escape plan, clinging to the hope of freedom beyond the walls.

Omen (Best Editing)

Written and directed by Belgian-Congolese director Baloji, Omen is a 2023 drama film,

The story is set in Congo, where Koffi, a man who is disowned and abandoned by his mother as a child for being labeled a “zabolo,” an evil sorcerer. He returns from Europe with his pregnant white girlfriend to visit his family. However, the shadow of ancient rituals and superstitions among the local tribes taints the visit, casting a dark cloud over Koffi’s long-awaited homecoming.




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