A delegation of Iranian filmmakers is in town to discuss a possible partnership between Ugandan and Iranian cinemas, we have been reliably informed.
The team is part of the Iranian Film Festival (IFF) whose second annual edition opens tomorrow at the National Theatre in Kampala. They will among other things try to lobby for a co-production treaty and exchange programmes between Ugandan and Iranian filmmakers.
“This has been high on our agenda for quite some time now, and we hope it will have materialized by next year so that we can begin to work on exchange programmes and other co-production projects,” Akbar Tohidlou, the Cultural Councilor at the Iranian Embassy in Kampala has told us in this exclusive interview.
Having been at the forefront of his country’s increasing cultural diplomacy throughout the world, Tohidlou believes there is plenty for Ugandan cinema to gain from partnering with Iran. He is however incensed that the Ugandan government does not take his plans seriously.
“I have twice written to the Ministry of Gender and Culture about establishing a relationship between the two industries and about linking us (Iran embassy) with Ugandan filmmakers, but I am yet to receive a reply,” Tohidlou explained, urging Ugandan filmmakers to visit his office for possible opportunities.
Although currently battling a number of international sanctions courtesy of its rebellious politics, Iran has impressively managed to make up for its rogue image by establishing one of the most respected film industries in the world.
The gulf country has had regular representation at some of the most world-renowned film galas, including scoping several Oscar and Golden Globe nodes and awards in different categories throughout the years. A Separation, the 2012 Oscar and Golden Globe Best Foreign Language accolade winner, screened to a rapturous reception at last year’s IFF.
And like Ugawood, Iranian film industry has a substantial footing in great story telling, although the latter is far more established and acclaimed. But with talks to link the two industries now in the pipeline, things might better for us.
If indeed plans to sign a co-production treaty with Iran come to fruition, it will be a big milestone for our government which so far continues to lose billions worth of foreign revenue in the form of Ugandan stories being shot elsewhere as was the case with Machine Gun Preacher and The Silent Army.
That said, IFF is looking to maintain last year’s tempo by offering an eclectic array of 12 hit films along with traditional Iranian music performances.
Organized by the Iranian Embassy in Uganda, the four-day festival will feature screening of some of the finest Iranian films including the acclaimed M is for Mother; As Simple as That; The Color of Paradise; Under the Moonlight; Every Night Alone; Endless Dreams and Beloved Sky.
There will be three screenings every day starting 3pm, and entrance is free of charge. See you there.