On Sunday night, the Nigeria Oscars Official Committee (NOSC) selected the spellbinding Mami Wata for the International Feature Film category at the 96th Academy Awards. This momentous choice, led by the visionary director C.J. Obasi, represents a historic milestone for Nigerian cinema, as ‘Mami Wata’ becomes the first-ever Pidgin English submission in the annals of NOSC’s participation in the esteemed awards ceremony.
Set against the backdrop of the scenic Republic of Benin, Mami Wata unfolds a captivating story. It delves into the lives of a coastal community challenged by a mysterious stranger’s arrival, disrupting their deeply rooted beliefs and cherished harmony. The film has gained critical acclaim, notably for its evocative black-and-white cinematography, earning it the Special Jury Award at this year’s prestigious Sundance Film Festival.
With its enchanting narrative steeped in West African folklore, Mami Wata has earned further acclaim, attributed mainly to the exceptional performances, particularly from the talented Uzoamaka Aniunoh in her role as Zinwe, daughter of the revered Mami Wata priestess, Mama Efe. Aniunoh’s portrayal masterfully captures the intricate layers of her character, infusing the film with emotional depth and resonance. Her nuanced performance has garnered widespread praise from critics and audiences, solidifying her status as a rising star in the Nigerian film industry.
The decision to select Mami Wata was based on its compelling exploration of the pivotal role of women in society, its unique storytelling approach, and its exceptional technical finesse. This choice is a testament to the cinematic brilliance of the talented director, C.J. Obasi, and his team.
The esteemed chairperson Stephanie Linus led the highly impressed 14-member NOSC voting committee, recognizing the film’s thematic depth and its ability to captivate global audiences. Speaking on the occasion, Linus emphasised the importance of Nigerian filmmakers continuously elevating their craft to meet international standards, urging them to push the boundaries of creativity and storytelling.
As the film sets its sights on the international stage, the anticipation for its performance at the 96th Oscars, scheduled for March 10, 2024, is palpable. The event, set to become a global celebration of cinematic excellence, will have the world’s attention centred on the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Mami Wata, with its powerful narrative and technical prowess, is positioned to represent Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and artistic ingenuity on one of the film industry’s most prominent platforms.