One of the main objectives of this year’s Nile’s Diaspora International Film Festival (Ndiff) is to petition government for a film commission, it was revealed yesterday.
Speaking to us in an exclusive interview, Ndiff founder and director Phad Mutumba said his team is bent on pressing respective government agencies to establish a fully-fledged department that will nurture Uganda’s emerging film industry.
“Our agenda this year is to push for a functional and independent film commission that will see to it that this industry gets the due attention it deserves so as to be able to compete with the rest of the continent,” Mutumba explained, revealing his approach involves gathering signatures and views from industry players.
Mutumba’s comments came in the aftermath of the festival’s grand opening ceremony at the Kampala Serena Hotel last evening, and echoed a long-standing wish by local filmmakers to have an independent body that directly addresses their needs minus government bureaucracy.
There has been general discontentment with the manner in which government treats the film industry, although Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is proving to change the status quo.
The media regulatory body has particularly been hailed for starting up an annual film festival, implementing the copyright law and directing all local TVs to broadcast 70% local content during prime time beginning next month.
UCC is also the lead sponsor of a number of private film initiatives, Ndiff inclusive, and has partnered with Media Council to establish a Film Classification Secretariat (FCS) to censor and classify video content.
But although thankful, Mutumba and team feel things would be a little better if there was a separate exclusive body all together to ensure effective funding of filmmakers, setting up a film fund and signing co-production treaties with other countries among other responsibilities.
A film commission can either be non-government or government, but either way, it is sanctioned by the state and receives most of its funding from government.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s red carpet fete was colorful despite receiving moderate attendance. The absence of Ghanaian star actors, Majid Michel and Jackie Appiah, gave chance our very own saxophone maestro Isaiah Katumwa to steal the show by serenading the 200-plus guests with soothing tunes.
The Nollywood duo was initially expected to grace all Ndiff festivities, but a last minute change has ensured they will now only be available beginning Monday. Along with Uganda’s Mathew Nabwiso and Cleopatra Koheirwe, they will be rewarded for their outstanding contribution to African cinema come awards night next Thursday.
Among other guests that graced the Serena event included The Hostel and Deception cast members, government officials, foreign dignitaries and other local cinema luminaries.
Nabwiso’s actress wife Eleanor looked chic in a short black evening dress and chunky diamond earrings while Mutumba himself kept it simple with his signature head band and hat, which he this time around complemented with simple jeans, red shoes and a branded jacket.
There was screening of Mutumba’s Canadian-made feature film Making the Band, which has a close likeness to the ongoing NTV Talent XP reality show to which he is head judge. The audience loved it.
In his written speech as Guest of Honor, presented by a colleague, UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi thanked Ndiff for adopting a pan-African approach by showcasing culturally and artistically- enriching films. He also pledged government’s commitment towards supporting the local film industry.
A total of ten Ugandan films are participating at this year’s Ndiff, and will all be vying for awards in their respective categories – including Best Short, Best Feature and Best Documentary. Screenings and workshops are free of charge, and will begin tomorrow morning (8am) at Cineplex Cinema (The Hub) and National Theatre respectively.
There will be a filmmaking symposium on Wednesday at Royal Suits Bugolobi in which all industry players are urged to attend. The festival will then wind up in a glamorous awards night ceremony to also be held at Bugolobi.
To get the screening/workshop programme or any other details, please visit the festival website here http://www.ndiffest.org/.