As the Uganda Film Festival was held on Friday, industry had something to say.
The impact of the Uganda Film Festival (UFF) on the local film industry is one that is very subjective – basing on the stakeholder you ask.
For example, the festival organises an award show that comes with cash perks for every award won, thus, most filmmakers collecting awards are happy with the festival. Then there are those that either win or even get nominated, they believe the festival should be able to benefit the industry as a whole, whether one is nominated or not.
On Friday, as UFF made its final lap, all these issues were on people’s minds, they have always been on their minds but no one has been brave enough to speak out. This time round, when Patrick Nkakalukanyi was announced as the Best Actor for his role in Tembele, he decided to speak out.
“This is the ninth edition of the Uganda Film Festival in ten years, we put on this garb to impress, but frankly, we can’t afford this garb,” he started.
The can of worms
The actor noted that the industry has a lot of talented actors yet only a few of them have the privilege of being professional actors and noted that if they are to professionalise the industry they need to consider actors as professionals that earn a salary for their work.
“I can not carry this thing (award) and it earns me a bed in Mulago. What will earn me a bed is what I earn from my work. We want more from our work. I may retire tomorrow but I want a budding actor out there to be able to afford NSSF, to buy a car,” he said and in no time, he had been joined by other actors and producers to chant, “we want more.”
Over the years, sections of local filmmakers have decried over the lack of support from local media houses and other stakeholders. For instance, much as many filmmakers invest a lot in making their choice of art, it is hard to exhibit the works in cinemas because of the expenses involved. Thus, most of the time will only hold a premiere for the film and then submit it to festivals and pay TVs, which still won’t give you a return on your investment.
The belief was that with a festival organised by UCC, they had the financial muscle and systems in place to popularise local film and cinema. Yet nine editions later, the would be target audience for films even had no idea a festival was happening.
Nkakalukanyi’s speech represented a big number of actors and producers that have had to abandon the industry only years after winning big at UFF. Many blame this on the fact that the festival may not have been successful in enforcing what they set out to at the beginning.
For example, among the broadcast partners of the festival that ran for the last two weeks, only DSTV through their Pearl Magic brand have a clear plan of acquiring local content in the form of variety shows, TV dramas, films and documentary films. According to the UCC executive director Irene Kaggwa, local broadcasters have an improved attitude towards local content but unfortunately, much of what local TVs push as local content are music shows.
Beyond the moment though, the festival gala that took place at the Uganda Institute of Information and Communication Technology, saw some of the best Ugandan films being rewarded.
Loukman Ali’s Netflix bound The Girl in the Yellow Jumper had a sweep of technical categories such as Best Sound, Best Cinematography and Best Editing.
For the first time, the festival gala did not have a single film dominating the wins as it has been a norm. For instance, Morris Mugisha’s Tembele took home both Best Actor and Supporting Actor before capping it up with The Best Feature Film, Maynard Mulindwa took home the Best Production Design and Best Director for his Foot Wine.
Nana Kagga this time round penned, produced and starred in her own story, Nalwawo, she won Best Actress for the role and also took home the Best Indegeneous Film accolade.
Returning from the diaspora, Hassan Mageye, not new to the festival his Bedroom Chains took home awards for best Screenplay and Best Costume. Pearl Magic Prime shows Sanyu and Prestige dominated the TV categories.
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