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Shamot Academy Award: a night the Old Guard passed the torch to the New Guard of Eritrea Entertainment Industry

In its second annual award show, it is clear to see why it is already one of the most fun-filled nights of the showbiz calendar, with stars from music and film coming together.

In Eritrea, there is a tree, a tree that is green throughout the year and continues to yield fruits nonstop. That particular tree is called Shamot. Similarly, the artist is throughout the year and his/ her life always green and never stops producing works of art to be consumed by the general public. While the tree is a God’s creation, art is solely created by artists. I have always said that Artists, after God, are the only real creators in the physical world.

The Shamot Academy Award, organized by the PFDJ Cultural Affairs branch, now into its second edition, is Eritrea’s equivalent of the Oscars, VMA’s and the people’s choice awards. In fact, it encompasses all these three into one award show in our very own Eritrean way.

As I attended the star-studded show, I was in the midst of great company that was certainly dressed to impress. I was privileged and proud to witness, as I would like to call them, the old and new guards of Eritrean Entertainment Industry that came together to celebrate the vast and rich motion picture productions of the year.

Earlier this week the event began with the Shamot Film week under the beautiful roof of Cinema Asmara. Thirty one short films were on display through out the duration of the week. The film week was attended by 2000 people.

The event gave the audience a chance to select their choice for Best short film, Best Actor and Best actress. The audience’s choice was about the people. The artist at the end of the day makes his art for the people. In a way this enabled the attendees of the film week to be part of the award process, which was great to see.

The weeklong event then culminated in an award giving ceremony held two days ago. The show began with a moment of silence in remembrance of our martyrs followed by a short comedy skit. A total of 131 music clips entered the competition. Clips made in the Eritrean languages — Tigre, Bidawet, Bilen, Kunama, Nara, Saho and Afar — made this year’s awards inclusive. The Short film category included a total of 41 nominated pictures which also included three short films made abroad. The production of Eritrean feature films have been declining over the last five years, but through the efforts and urgent calls made by the award committee a total of 19 new feature films made appearance in this year’s award event. This is seen as a step in the right direction for the industry.

On the night, Qerana won awards for best short film and best script, while the award for best feature film went to Zeysiger dob. In the other categories, Dagm won for best editing and Seb Chekinu for best Cinematography respectively in the short film category.

The highly anticipated award for best song went to Merhawi Tewolde for Me’as Hamike. On the other hand, Hello won best cinematography, Yonatan Dula’s Rekibe won for best editing and Yonas Mihreteab (Minus) took best director for his efforts in Goney, while award for best picture for a clip went to Zeymalsey.

The audience’s choice of best short film, contrary to the mainstream award, went to Xor Hasabat and main leads in the film Aman Hamid (Badsha) and LulBahri respectively won the audience choice of best actor and actress.

Lulbahri, 12 years old, has become the youngest actress to win the award. Aman Hamid (Badsha) described the young actress as dynamic. At such a young age she has already proven to be, just as her mother, a fan’s favorite and it is a well deserved honor too.

The other side of the event was performance on the stage from the renowned band Boba and short comedy skits by up and coming young actress and winner of the audiences’ best actress award Lulbahri. But what gripped the audience on the night was a duet by vocalists Elham and Barnobas. Singing Nibat Fikri, roughly translated as Tears of Love, was a performance worthy of the night and the cinema itself. The Stage they occupied was once an Opera house in its heyday. Elham’s and Barnobas’s voices reverberated across the theatre, the audience clearly moved by the performance. The event was an all-round success.

Awards shows signify that a movie, TV show or music clip is worthy our attention. More importantly, it forces producers in these mediums to actually make content that would get attention. For all forms of media, awards serve an important role, both in discovery for watchers, listeners, and readers, and to push creators to create and finance more prestigious content. This helps to promote a better quality of media. Though still in its infancy, Shamot Academy Award is heading in the right direction; awards give recognition to artists and shed the much needed light on their work.

Most of the nominees and winners on the night were from the new generation, led by legends who paved the way for Eritrean Arts industry to flourish throughout Eritrea’s history. In a way, the event on Thursday solidified the bond between the old guard and the new guard.

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