Ugandan filmmakers and fans can look forward to multiple workshops, better films and bigger awards at this year’s Uganda Film Festival (UFF), we can reveal.
Officials from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the festival’s organizers, have suggested that the second edition of UFF has been beefed up not only to empower and reward Ugandan filmmakers, but to also offer a thrilling experience for festivalgoers.
“We have taken into account all the positive suggestions we received from the public, and we can promise that this year’s festival will be better than last year’s,” Leonard Amanya, the festival’s information officer, told us in an exclusive interview yesterday.
The revelation comes ahead of UFF 2014’s official launch ceremony due Tuesday next week where over 200 guests are expected to attend, apparently including the legendary Nollywood actress Patience Ozokwor.
UFF debuted last year as part of the ongoing government efforts to develop the local film industry.
As the communications sector regulator, which is also charged with overseeing film exhibition and distribution in Uganda, UCC came up with the idea of holding an annual film festival to provide a platform where Ugandan filmmakers could showcase, market and promote their work free of charge.
Critics were however quick to question the move, arguing that UCC should rather have supported the existing festivals or better still provided funds to filmmakers. The regulatory body was also accused of stealing the festival idea and name by a local film producer.
Despite the controversies, however, UFF has enjoyed massive support from the industry, with most Ugandan filmmakers now viewing it as the ultimate platform to network and reach their audiences.
Last year’s edition boasted a whooping 189 films, a film market, workshops and an awards ceremony. But there’s likely to be a more manageable number of films this year, including at least ten premieres.
To add to the excitement, this year’s competition categories have been expanded to 15, up from last year’s eight. Some of the new categories include Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Documentary and Best Costuming. There will also be an award for Best East African Film, as well as two honorary accolades.
Plans are also afoot to have more corporate companies sponsor individual categories such that winners get bonus prizes on top of the statuettes.
We also understand the newly opened Century Cinemax (Acacia Mall) and Cinemax cinema (Ham Towers) are likely to join Cineplex as the host venues.
Meanwhile, UCC yesterday released the official poster for UFF 2014. The rather simple artwork features 11 famous Ugawood faces framed within the map of Uganda, with that of US-based Ugandan actor Ntare Mwine being the most prominent.
Tuesday’s launch ceremony will take place at UCC’s Bugolobi headquarters in Kampala, and will feature a cocktail as well as the release of the festival’s official programme. It’s a strictly-by-invite event.
After the launch, submissions will immediately open up until July 17. All Ugandan films that didn’t participate at last year’s UFF are eligible to participate regardless of their year of release.
A subsequent buildup campaign featuring regional tours, charity games and media blitz will then lead into the five-day festival (August 25-29) to be themed Empowering Ugandan Through Film.