September 23, 2023

Sundance Jury applauds Obasi’s Mami Wata for its impressive black and white imagery, outstanding performances, and epic settings.

By Helena Olori

Nigerian’s film industry, Nollywood, is in the spotlight once more as CJ Obasi’s Mami Wata makes history by becoming not only the first indigenous Nigerian film to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, but also the first to win an award at the prestigious festival.

Mami Wata received the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematography, recognising its exceptional use of black and white visuals that played a distinctive role in its storytelling.

The Jury citation reads: “Through each frame, Lilis Soares’ expert lens mesmerized the jury. The richness of the black and white images, combined with the intricate and intimate camerawork of both the performances and natural landscape, elevated this folkloric tale to an intoxicating visual experience.”

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Accepting the award on behalf of his Director Photography, Lilis Soares, Obasi said, “It means a lot. This was a dream we worked so hard on this. A testament to what we were trying to create with the cinematography of the film. Lílis would say, ‘Aesthetics is political.’ And this is a great testament to that.” He added that this win changes the history and trajectory of Nigerian cinema forever.

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