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Eleanor: Using film to mirror society ills

Eleanor Nabwiso

Bed of Thorns: In 2010, Eleanor Nabwiso graced our silver screens in the television drama, The Hostel. With Matthew Nabwiso, they fell in love, creating a story within a story. Tonight Nabwiso, who got into film-making, premieres her first film, Bed of Thorns, a film inspired by a friend’s ordeal. Edgar R. Batte had a chat with her on the choice of an all-female cast.

You are the director and producer of Bed of Thorns, what has been your journey to the actualisation of this film?

Bed of Thorns is a film about gender-based violence (GBV), something I have always wanted to address. I feel like having 16 days of activism every year is not enough for awareness. After seeing a friend go through GBV, I was pushed to get up and start using film to spread awareness about the different forms of GBV.

I visited many organisations that deal with this issue for information and interestingly, I found out that 56 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 face domestic violence and 28 per cent face sexual violence.

This is still high and some do not even know they are being violated. I feel awareness campaigns must run all year around, so I chose to do this movie with an all-female crew to empower fellow women and speak out about gender-based violence.

Who did you cast and what did it take to assemble this cast?

The main cast includes Malaika Nyanzi, Martha Kay, Diana Kahunde, Agnes Kebirungi, Michael Wawuyo Junior, Patrick Idringi, aka Salvado, and Sarah Kisawuzi.

I contacted everyone individually and they were all positive. After contacting a group of about 76 actresses, they all came on board to help spread the campaign on social media.

Even if we are all good at what we do, I had to call for auditions and had everyone audition.

We had a few days of script read-through rehearsals before the filming and I helped everyone understand their roles. Also as we filmed, I chose to direct everyone individually, asking them where they have been as a character and what they intend to achieve ahead in the next scene. The cast was very cooperative and professional most of the time.

As a director, I saw everyone grow as a character and the more they understood their character journey, the better they delivered on the roles.

Films come with budgets, what did this mean on your purse as a producer?

Wow, well, as a producer, I have spent a lot of money on this project, especially on some extra equipment, some locations, post production including music, graphics editing and promotion material.

But I am grateful to the cast and crew that has also been supportive both financially and emotionally.

I am also grateful to the different hotels and home owners that gave us free venues throughout the filming and Nile Breweries that supported my movie premiere. For me, it is more like an investment that I know will open more doors for my passion of using visual art to create awareness.

In terms of structural alignment and support, what would you wish to see done better or improved?

I would like to see different companies being supportive to the film industry. Producers too need to partner to have as many movies produced from Uganda.
I want our copyright law to be enforced to a higher degree so that we are assured that the movies we make will fetch back our investments in our own country.

The marketing needs to improve. Local television stations should embrace producers’ content and buy it at a good price so we do not only look at foreign markets.

Film is a very big form of tourism attraction and should be promoted and supported by the government through export and also putting up film funds because many people out there have stories but cannot produce them because of limited funds. Besides, the big film festival by Uganda Communications Communication that gives financial rewards, a film fund will be helpful for more quality films to be made from Uganda

What is on your wish list or plan schedule on things to achieve as an active artist and investor in the arts industry?

Wow, my wish list is long. If I start I will not stop. Some of the things I want to achieve as an investor in the arts industry is to have two quality movies produced every year in Uganda.

I want to have production collaborations from producers from different countries, to have not just our actors but also crew spread across borders. This also gives us a chance to have our stories told across borders.

On the film

I chose to premiere the film in March (the women’s month), to bring out the fact that a woman can do it all, especially jobs people have always thought to be for men in film making.

After the success of my movie, Rain, I saw that people can learn a lot through entertainment. We had more than 12, 000 people test for HIV/Aids after watching Rain. With this impact, I felt the urge to take on another topic to create more impact. I want to keep running different campaigns through film production to create awareness and educate masses.

Nabwiso Films aims at bringing the unspoken topics out in an entertaining way. I want to be a voice and solution for the scared majority. Bed of Thorns will be the first all-female crew made movie in Uganda.

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