The local film industry has been making waves across the continent, yet still struggling for recognition at home.
“I haven’t won an award for Best Feature Film in a major festival like this one so I am overly excited. This win shows that I have evolved into an outstanding filmmaker. I am hoping for more in the future,” the elated Mariam Ndagire Kizito, a self-taught filmmaker and entertainment entrepreneur, told Daily Monitor.
Her film, My Husband’s Wife, bagged three accolades, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Ugandan Feature Film in the annual Pearl International Film Festival (PIFF).
The plot of the movie is anchored on marital challenges. A happy couple suddenly must deal with and struggle with tough choices when their healthy son falls (hard) in a bathroom, leaving him disabled.
His states and the decisions they must take there after seriously puts their matrimonial vows at a test. Ndagire assembles a convincing cast of John Mary Ssekimpi, Tania Shakirah Kankindi, Symon Base Kalema and Winfred Nafula.
The film, shot during the first Covid-19 lockdown didn’t give the filmmaker a lot of time to prepare. With limited time and human resource, she had to engage an acting coach, Patrick Nkakalukanyi to take the cast through the script and their roles during production to achieve the goal of shooting the film in an anticipated timeframe.
“He was coaching as we filmed. He was preparing them; reminding them the depth of the script and the emotions involved. He did a great job and pulled it off well because I didn’t get a lot of problem directing,” Ndagire says of Nkakalukanyi.
Nkakalukanyi says his role was to open the eyes of the actors to what he describes as world of the story in characterization, diction, reaction, interpretation and so much more.
“The role of an acting coach is much needed. Actors and actresses perform some roles poorly and it’s not even their fault per se. We have very few ‘actor directors yet it takes more than just having lines. I love uncovering those nuggets with the actors and watching their reaction as that light bulb turns on,” he explains My Husband’s Wife is one of the few movies he has worked as an acting coach.
Ndagire says the movie has received good reviews, some of which she has gotten in her inbox by email and social media platforms. A seasoned stage performer, singer and director, Ndagire started making films in 2007.
“I didn’t know anything about filmmaking. I read theatre and there and looked at people’s work and brought in my experience from theatre. As I made movies, I learnt different things. Before making My Husband’s Wife, I wanted to be better and different,” she explains.
Over the years, she says she has learnt that for a movie to earn its worth, it must have a good and catch script whose story will capture the attention of the audience.
Then, a filmmaker must get the right cast, pay attention to the detail of lighting, sound and editing. If a filmmaker got all things right, he will have to deal with the challenge of marketing and distributing to get their film where it can be seen.
“Television stations are not helping so much. Some such as Top TV have funded film projects, but it is not a lot. It is still a challenging industry, but we are here,” Ndagire observes.
Nonetheless, she is happy for Loukman Ali’s milestone. His film, The Girl in a Yellow Jumper, making it to steaming platform Netflix.
“That is a huge milestone for Uganda’s film industry because if we get to such a platform, very many doors are going to open for the industry not just for Loukman.”
DSTV dedicated Pearl Magic to Ugandan content but even with such opportunities, Ndagire says that government needs to take interest and invest in the industry.
One film project can employ several people. An average film should cost about Shs37m to put together but many filmmakers continue to struggle to make good movies because of lack of sufficient funds.
If she met President Yoweri Museveni, she’d tell him, “Mr. President would you please give the film industry a village where we can go and find a street or anything and not have to film in people’s homes. We need a fully-fledged film studio for the sector, just like Hollywood.”
Ndagire is looking at taking her film, which recently premiered on Pearl Magic Prime, to several festivals that recognize, reward, and support African and international films.
By participating, films makers like her can network and share synergies with likeminded people as well as standing chances to win cash prizes in the festival awards and competitions.