Long overshadowed by Hollywood’s ever growing glitz and shunned by cinemas for their lack of commercial viability, classic films have increasingly becoming scarce.
It’s even worse in Uganda where the film culture is just picking yet there is hardly any proper distribution policy, film museums, or fan groups.
But this may now be a thing of the past, thanks to Bohemian Pictures, a new film club that is promising to showcase an eclectic array of vintage and iconic films to Ugandan audiences.
Set to launch tomorrow at the National Theatre in Kampala, the club is the first of its kind in Uganda and comes at a rather timely period when the local film industry is undergoing a revolution.
“We basically want to show Ugandans good quality films that they would otherwise never have got the opportunity to watch anywhere,” the club’s co-founder, Tabitha Muhanganzima, has told us in an exclusive interview.
A self-confessed classic cinema enthusiast, Muhanganzima says she conceived the idea to start up Bohemian Pictures upon returning to Uganda two years ago, after spending 11 years in the UK. Her ambition was partly fueled by the fact that she could not afford the cost of DStv to help her keep abreast with her favorite pre-80s era movies.
“It’s an open club with a membership fee of Shs50,000 for the start. Members will enjoy unlimited benefits including a reduced price to attend screenings,” Muhanganzima explained of the club she started in partnership with a friend, one Catherine Kworoba.
Almost similar to an earlier initiative by the British Council in which iconic British films were periodically showed in Kampala, the club will hold screenings at Metropole Hotel in Kololo every Tuesday and Friday.
The screenings will be divided into two categories – Vintage Classics for Tuesdays and Contemporarily Classics on Fridays – and will feature panel discussions by film experts. To attend the screenings, club members will have to part with Shs7,000 while non-members will be required to pay Shs15,000 each.
“We already have a line-up of over fifty good films to screen, and our audiences will determine what to show next with time,” Muhanganzima revealed, explaining the initiative will offer a good learning experience to Ugandan filmmakers, many of whom have been criticized for shoddy work.
As is the case in modern Ugawood, classic Hollywood filmmakers worked under harsh conditions including low budgets and rudimentary equipment, yet still managed to churn out some of the best movies of all time.
Now, film buffs in Uganda will have the opportunity to enjoy (and learn from) these great movies in a cinema-like environment.
Tomorrow’s launch ceremony will feature the screening of director Billy Wilder’s 1955 hit, The Seven Year Itch, which features an unforgettable saucy scene that has since been eulogized in countless art paintings, statues and pop culture. Therein, tragic actress and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe’s dress is blown up her hips by wind at a train station, exposing her shapely behind that up to now keeps millions of male fans drooling.
“We felt it best to start on a lighter note,” Muhanganzima said of tomorrow’s show that will also feature a cocktail.
A sneak peek at the club’s future menu however give an impression there will be a mix of cool and controversial films with Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarantino and Stanley Kubrick taking center stall. Also to watch out for is the HIV/AIDS-themed Philadelphia, the Oscar-winning Slum Dog Millionaire and a couple of iconic African films.
But Muhanganzima, who is currently jobless after failing to find work in Uganda as a Clinical Scientist, is well aware of the serious handles that lie ahead. She mainly decries poor funding although she’s hopeful her club will slowly pick up.
Gates to tomorrow’s show open at 6pm and tickets are already on sale at the theatre box office, with VIPs going for Shs20,000 while ordinary ones are at Shs10,000. For more information, please call 0794346788 or 0773800478. See you there.