CJ ‘Obasi’ Mami Wata Earns NAACP Image Award Nomination

The Story ⚡

CJ ‘Fiery’ Obasi’s film, ‘Mami Wata,’ secures a nomination for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding International Motion Picture category.

Tell Me More

“Mami Wata,” the 2023 black-and-white fantasy thriller directed by C.J. “Fiery” Obasi, takes audiences on a captivating journey inspired by West African folklore.

The film follows two sisters on a brave quest to save their village and revive the glory of a mermaid goddess. With a stellar cast including Evelyne Ily Juhen, Uzoamaka Aniunoh, Emeka Amakeze, Rita Edochie, and Kelechi Udegbe, each adding depth to the storytelling, “Mami Wata” showcases the power of collaboration. Produced by Oge Obasi and featuring cinematography by Lílis Soares, the film is a testament to storytelling brilliance and cultural resonance.

Recognizing its cultural significance, “Mami Wata” earned acclaim as the Nigerian entry for the Best International Feature Film category at the 96th Academy Awards in October 2023. Further affirming its international recognition, the film garnered nominations in the Best International Film category at the 39th Independent Spirit Awards.

Key Background

C.J. Obasi, also known as “Fiery,” emerged from a childhood immersed in horror films and literature, sparking an early passion for storytelling through comics.

Despite initially pursuing a degree in Computer Science, his artistic inclination led him to shift gears and delve into filmmaking. His debut feature, “OJUJU,” a zero-budget film, received acclaim, winning the “Best Nigerian Film” award at AFRIFF 2014 and later becoming a cult classic. Obasi’s follow-up, “O-Town,” further solidified his standing in the industry, earning nominations at prestigious film awards.

As a co-founder of the Surreal16 collective, Obasi contributed to notable anthology projects like “Visions” and “Juju Stories.” The latter won the Boccalino D’oro Award for Best Film at the Locarno Film Festival and is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.


Securing victory at the Sundance Film Festival stands as a pinnacle achievement in independent filmmaking, opening doors to myriad opportunities for the triumphant film and its creators. The aftermath of such a win is multi-faceted, offering heightened visibility, expanded distribution avenues, and invaluable networking opportunities with industry leaders.

This accolade serves as a stepping stone, potentially leading filmmakers to secure crucial funding for future projects, solidifying their standing within the competitive film landscape.

The impact, however, varies based on the unique qualities of the winning film and the aspirations of its creators. Sundance attracts thousands of industry professionals and enthusiasts each January, transforming into the ultimate stage for cinematic revelation and audience exploration. A Sundance triumph, especially for first-time filmmakers, positions the festival as “The Showcase” for emerging talent, a cinematic harbinger of groundbreaking work.

Beyond the screenings, Sundance evolves into a publicity juggernaut, hosting myriad promotional events, seminars, and special occasions that amplify the winning film, creating the essential “Noise” and generating the all-important “Buzz.”

This win at Sundance becomes more than an accolade; it becomes a catalyst for prolonged exposure, allowing the film to organically find its audience and cultivate word of mouth, ultimately ensuring its survival in the fiercely competitive film industry.

In Summary

This nomination is a dual celebration, recognizing his individual achievement while also highlighting the rising prominence of diverse African narratives in the global cinematic landscape.

NAACP Image Awards is set to be held in March and we are rooting for a Nigerian win!

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