Eleven years later, this year the tenth edition of the Uganda Film Festival started last Monday.
It is not clear, however, if the festival indeed started on Monday 22, as festivities had been going on for weeks, such as awarding short films from the regional competition and conducting a number of workshops.
The festival, organised by the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) announced their nominees and later a screening schedule for the festival gala that is set to take place on Friday.
However, for a festival that is turning 10 years old, there seems to be not enough celebration going on. From the nature of the nominees announcement, a low key affair to relatively empty film screenings, one wonders whether the public actually knows the festival is on.
The past two years, unlike the past editions, the film screenings have been taking place relatively in the night with a price cap. In 2022, they introduced the idea of having the public pay for films before watching, a good idea that suffered on the launch.
Most of the films were showed for free since producers did not find enough time to promote the films for a paying audience – something that continues to haunt the festival, it is always poorly curated that it ends up looking rushed.
For the first week, there were a number of screenings and workshops. From films such as When You Become Me, Kafa Coh and The Passenger, all these are heavily nominated in the awards that will take place on Friday.
However there were some films to check out that were equally entertaining and underwhelming in other fields. An example is Ronnie Nkalubo’s comedy, Road Ride, a comedy that stays true to the genre, beautiful and memorable performances that get dodged by issues of an underdeveloped story and script.
It was a film where two of the protagonists played it out on the road, a good setting, one that Hollywood has exploited over the years, problem is that, them staying on the road for so long was not really justified. The rest of it played out like a prolonged standup set. Though to their credit, Road Ride is still an enjoyable watch, there is never a dull moment.
Dial M for Maya is powerful with storytelling, but it is not a story that is so new, it is still a well told inbox story.
For a film festival in the tenth bend, the audience at the screenings is part of an entire story, most of them are made up of family and friends. Something that shows one that the festival is yet to be fully embraced by the audience that is supposed to enjoy it.
Is it the filmmakers or UCC to blame for this, well, that story will be told on another day.
The festival sums up this week with a gala where the best from the past year will be awarded. Most people that have watched most of the films believe the competition will be between Kafa Coh, a legal drama about one man’s fight for justice and When You Become Me, an inclusive film that brings together talent from all walks to tell a story about a deaf girl who joins a campaign against a corporation that has violated a blind man’s rights.