File Picture: 18 Hours winners from left Kevin Njue Phoebe Ruguru and Mark Maina

A new film-making category has been included in the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, the seventh annual ceremony for which will be held this weekend.

The new category is the MultiChoice Talent Factory Award, named in honour of the MultiChoice Africa initiative to enhance film-making talent across Africa through a series of training programmes.

Liz Dziva, publicity and public relations manager of MultiChoice Zimbabwe, said the new category was created to reward excellence in storytelling and provide a recognition platform for graduates of the three MultiChoice Talent Factory academies in southern, east and west Africa.

“The MTF initiative is a multi-faceted exercise launched in 2018 that provides valuable platforms for aspiring and existing professionals in the field film and television production,” he said.

“It is already sending a significant number of young new operatives into the industry and the new AMVCAs category further encourages them by giving recognition to excellence in their finished productions.”

Six films have been nominated in the new category: Life of Bim  and DreamChaser (both from west Africa), Ensulo and Promises (both from east Africa), Savannah Skies and The Painting (both from southern Africa).

“These were all produced by students of the MTF class of 2018-19, which produced 20 graduates from each of the three academies at the culmination of the first 12-month programme to develop the next generation of African film and TV creatives,” said Ms Dziva.

The 2020 AMVCAs have 28 categories, seven of which are open to public voting and 21 of which – including the MultiChoice Talent Factory Award – being decided by the AMVCA panel of judges. For this year the panel is headed by award-winning filmmaker and MTF Academy Director for West Africa, Femi Odugbemi, head judge of the awards for the fourth time.

Ms Dziva said: “Like everyone else,  Mr Odiugbemi is excited about the new MTF category in the AMVCAs because it showcases the AMVCA commitment to professional training as a critical factor in creating richer storytelling.”

Since its inception in 2013 the AMVCAs have celebrated African filmmakers, actors and industry specialists in the continued growth of the continent’s film and television industry. Through launching the MultiChoice Talent Factory Award, the AMVCAs become a platform for MTF graduates across west, east and southern Africa to build strong creative reputations and gives them a springboard for career development.

Life of Bim is a film about an aspiring footballer whose dreams of becoming a professional athlete are threatened by family pressure, while Dreamchaser follows a young woman as she navigates the challenges of the music industry. Ensulo is a film about Princess Zuri, whose life dramatically changes after the death of her father, King Mfalme, and Promises is about a boda-boda driver who struggles to raise his children after the death of his wife during childbirth.

Savannah Skies is a story about a young woman forced into marriage, while The Painting focuses on a struggling artist who finds a painting in her home that brings a surprising twist to her career and life.

Zimbabwean Nobert Mapfoche  was the producer of Savannah Skies, while fellow Zimbabwean Rutendo Mahofa was assistant director.

The seventh AMVCAs are screened live on all DStv Africa Magic channels at 5pm on Saturday March 14. Sponsored by Amstel Malta, they are broadcast from Lagos, Nigeria.

Television host IK Osakioduwa returns as host, along with a new co-host, Amina Abdi Rabar, a top Kenyan TVand radio presenter.

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