Guests at last Friday’s premiere of new Ugawood film, Chicago Bastards, were treated to a comic fanfare as the film’s cast and crew turned up in eccentric outfits while the emcees assumed the role of standup comedians.
The red-carpet event, held at DB9 pub in Kalerwe, drew in a 200-plus crowd, and was the first movie premiere by the novice guerrilla film production group, Action Triggerz Ltd, which has been working under the radar since inception three years ago.
Their debut film, Zirabamuzaale, was released direct-to-video in 2012, and went on to participate at two local festivals – and that was just about it for the low-budget picture. The group was thus looking to make a mark with their new movie.
The run to Friday’s premiere might have involved serious campaigning on Facebook and a cleanliness drive in the city suburb of Kalerwe, but the event itself turned out to be light-hearted.
While most members of the cast and crew wore formal outfits, others rather took creativity to a whole new level, turning up dressed as gigantic mascots. It is however the group’s leader and the film’s director, Tony Lutakome, who excited the audience most.
The 23-year-old filmmaker, who recently told us of how his 40-member group is bent on eradicating ‘crappy’ Nigerian films from the Ugandan market, chose to look like a Roman gladiator on his big day.
Dressed in a shiny full-body armor, and in company of a similarly-clad gladiatrix, the energetic youngster bared his terrifying daggers at the frenzied audience in an electrifying mock battle that lasted way over ten minutes. The crowd loved it.
Meanwhile, the night’s two young emcees who are also members of Action Triggerz cracked all sorts of jokes ranging from sex to tribe, as countless upcoming singers entertained guests.
A moral tale on the importance of upholding the African culture, Bastards follows a group of young black American students on vacation in a rural central Uganda village.
Their debauched lifestyle involving clichéd stereotypes about African American culture however soon gets them in trouble with ancestral gods, who then demand that the students redeem themselves or face stern consequences.
The irate youths however won’t listen, so they end up being hunted down and brutally killed by a mysterious angel of vengeance named Nagashaka.
Clearly a guerrilla film by a novice cast and crew, Bastards’ employs little artistry and falls short of solid character development – it was a blunder to try and squeeze a 13-plus ensemble cast within a 110-minute film.
The film also risks a backlash for its chauvinistic undertones that appear to portray the African culture as prejudiced against women. In one scene for instance, a girl is raped but no one seems bothered by it. Also, one of the American girls is punished because she went to the communal well while indisposed.
Above all, however, Bastards is effective in making a case for core African cultural values including respect for elders, religion, family and unity among others.
The film is slated to participate at this month’s Pearl International Film Festival (Piff) before going on DVD.