The 2011 20th annual MTV Movie Awards airs live on the network this Sunday, June 5th, hosted by actor/comedian Jason Sudeikis at the Gibson Amphitheatre, in Universal City, California. And this year, for the very first time in the awards’ history, African cinema will be recognized in its own separate category – Best African Movie.

I couldn’t immediately find any comments from MTV reps stating their reasons for this move, but I’m certainly not complaining. It’ll give each of these films more exposure than they’ve had since first entering the marketplace.

There are 4 nominees up for the Best African Movie award, and we’ve covered all 4 of them on Shadow And Act, quite extensively too. They are: Chadian auteur Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s A Screaming Man (Un Homme Qui Crie), Djo Tunda Wa Munga’s Viva Riva!, set in Congo-Kinshasa, Nigerian Andrew Dosunmu’s Restless City, and South African entry Life, Above All, directed by Oliver Schmitz.

Congrats to each of these filmmakers and films, and let’s hope that the effects of this move by MTV help shine some light on the variety in what we broadly term African cinema, as demonstrated by the 4 different films above.

I’ve seen 3 of the 4 films, and reviewed 2 of them – Viva Riva! (HERE), and Restless City (HERE).