From the heart of darkness, came the vibrant colors of life. The annual awards from the academy of motion pictures arts and science which is commonly known as the Oscars are the highest level of achievement in the fields of films. Hollywood, which is considered as the biggest public relations tool of Capitalism, vouching for American supremacy and mongering wars in various parts of the globe, produce a number of blockbuster movies across the year. But In the stage of the Oscars, those films rarely made their presence. Oscar celebrates the stories which tell about real people, real problems. When the world is suffering from the problems of forced immigration due to shadow wars, refugee crisis and Donald Trump as US president is very much willing to build a wall in Mexican borders to preserve the Anglo-white supremacy, this years Academy Awards speak for the spirit of Africa.
In 1939, Hattie McDaniel won the academy awards for the supporting character “Mammy” in the classic movie “Gone with the wind”. But that was the role of a house-servant in a plantation! From that point to present times, things changed with the society. African-American actors are not confined in their typical roles, rather they are representing the mainstream. Earlier, Moonlight won the Oscar for best picture in 2016 with all black cast. This year, “Black Panther” did a remarkable job. The juries nominated the film based on first black superhero in the best picture category for 2018. Though “Black Panther” did not win the award for best picture which went to “The Green Book” which constantly deal with racism and has an African American actor in the lead. Rami Malek, who portrayed Freddy Mercury in his biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the son of an Egyptian couple who migrated to the USA. The award for the best supporting actor male went to Mahershala Ali for his portrayal of Don Shirley in The Green Book, the best supporting actor female went to Regina King for her role in “If Beale Street Could Talk”. Those were the awards which were won for the individual recognition, but what made this year’s Oscars celebrate the spirit of Africa is Black Panther.
Why “Black Panther” is different from other superhero movies? Because it tells about the developed united Africa, celebrates the diversity of Africa, spreads the spirit of Africa. Rayan Coogler depicts the rising of Africa, which touched people of African descent all around the world. The Nigerian Football team wore “Black Panther” themed jersey in the Russia World Cup, Manchester united footballer Jess Lingard celebrated in Black Panther style. From filming to premier and finally in the Dolby Theater, where the Academy Award Ceremony took place, it was the celebration of African spirit all the way.
Black Panther is the first superhero movie to earn a nomination in the best picture category in the Academy Awards. Why? Because, it’s a movie about what it means to be black in both America and Africa—and, more broadly, in the world. In such a time, when the entertainment industry is wrestling with its toxic treatment of women and persons of color. This rapidly expanding reckoning—one that reflects the importance of representation in our culture—is long overdue. “Black Panther” is poised to prove to Hollywood that African-American narratives have the power to generate profits from all audiences. And, more important, that making movies about black lives is part of showing that they matter.
The movie did not win the mantle of Best Picture, but it won 3 academy awards. Best original score, best production design and best costume. The score composer Ludwig Goransson traveled to Senegal and spent weeks with local musicians to understand the rhythm of Africa. Local instruments like the talking drum, the fula and the tambin and various musical instruments made from horns or other natural elements were used to design a befitting score for the king of Wakanda. Costume designer Ruth E Carter referenced Massai, Himba, Tuareg,Xulu and many African tribes attire and jewelry to create a versatile and vivid fashion statement for the film which has a true African flavor. The production design presented the futuristic Africa, but at the same time preserved its enchanting wilderness. Overall, “Black Panther” is not just a movie, rather a bold statement of what Africa can be in the future.
First African American Superhero movie won the nomination for best picture in academy awards and finally won three academy awards. Two African American actors won the Oscars in the category of supporting actor male and female. Anything more for Africa? Yes. There is another African American superhero, Miles Morales. This year the academy award for the best animated feature film went to “Spiderman into the spiderverse” where we see multiple Spiderman with the idea of multiverse. Young African American kid who also gained the ability of Spiderman the same way Peter Parker got. Morales, voiced by Shameik Moore is the protagonist of the animated film “spiderman into the spiderverse” which is the first non Pixar-Disney film to win the Oscars after Rango in 2011.
In reality of in virtual reality, it was the African spirit which triumphed the Oscar night. Now, Hollywood can sing along with Shakira and shout it out loud, “It’s time for Africa”.