And the winner is Joyce Mhango-Chavula,” the awards presenters announced.
Glamour, fashion and style were bound to take the centre stage as the African movie stars and stakeholders gathered for the fourth edition of the prestigious Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, (AMVCAs).
But beyond the glamour, the event witnessed interesting highlights, red carpet event, emotional moments and awesome talking points.
There are winners just as there are losers too but one unique thing is that Malawi made history by winning an AMVCA for the first time. It became a third country actually in southern Africa to win after South Africa and Zambia.
Silence engulfed the Eko Hotels Convention Centre as little known Mhango-Chavula and Brenda Mselu, the lead actress in her Lilongwe production walked to the magnificent stage.
This was the same platform that saw other movie stakeholders getting a resounding applause while others got triple the recognition; cheers, the golden horn and a standing ovation.
Unmoved with the silence, an excited Mhango-Chavula told the audience: “I am so happy, I am humbled.
“This is a first for Malawi,” she continued amid heavy breathing pauses.
“Wow!” part of the audience responded in shock while others applauded in response.
“This is for Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa,” the two said in unison before leaving the stage.
Meanwhile, when Lilongwe was being recognised as the best Southern Africa film, its number one competitor, Ayanda by South Africa’s Sara Blecher had garnered two awards for the best make up and movie writer.
It was the second movie this year to receive the highest number of nominations, with a total of eight.
Akin Omotoso’s Tell Me Sweet Something, which had four nominations, had won the golden horn for the best cinematography. It later went on to win the supporting actress category.
In an interview after the awards, Mhango-Chavula thanked Malawians for taking time to vote for her.
“I can’t say I saw this coming, but I was always very calm and not bothered about anything.
“Looking at the names I was up against, these are big people in the film industry, not only in South Africa but on the continent as well. But I had to ask myself as why I was nominated alongside them? It means there’s something in the movie,” she said.
She hopes the award will inspire other movie makers as well as actresses to do more.
“I hope the award will give birth to more movies from all those in her industry as well as spur all those who have been considering giving this a try. The award represents hope that is there for a brighter future,” she added.
Due to lack of support towards arts in the country in general with the film industry suffering a lot, Chavula-Mhango resorted to making low cost movies.
“I told myself to do movies that do not require much budget, but of good quality and international standards. Honestly, I can’t do it on my own and there are very few individuals. So, in a space of 12 days, Lilongwe was shot and I spent K1.5 million (about $2 000),” she said.
Mselu, on the other hand, could not say much: “We can do it, we will do it. It’s all about us.”
Meanwhile, the Film Association of Malawi (Fama) has described the win as the most interesting news in as far as film is concerned.
“The award will encourage many up-and-coming film makers to work hard and improve their work. The country needs more torch bearers like her to lead the foundation of a viable industry. It is important that Malawi films are now being recognised,” the association’s president, Ezaius Mkandawire.n