His film might have won a whooping six accolades at last weekend’s Pearl International Film Festival (Piff) awards, but Ugandan filmmaker Hassan Mageye is no happy man.
Mageye’s film, The Clan’s Wife, was the star of this year’s ‘Ugandan Oscars’, winning half of its whooping dozen nominations at a low-key ceremony held at Hotel Triangle in Kampala on Saturday. With a nod in just about every category, the film only managed to scoop accolades for Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress awards, Best Editor and Best Makeup.
And now, in a rather surprising twist of events, the 31-year-old fast-rising filmmaker on Monday told of his dissatisfaction with some of the results of the night, claiming his film deserved to win some more awards.
He is particularly aggrieved by the jury’s decision to deny his film awards in the Best Script, Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Music Score categories.
“I have watched the films that won in those categories and truthfully they are not better than mine,” a composed Mageye told us in the exclusive interview, cautious not to rub his rivals the wrong way.
His film, which he wrote, produced and directed, is a poignant tale of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in western Uganda during the mid-80s.
It had been expected to register a haul, but as fate would have it, half of the awards it came eyeing – mainly in the supporting role and technical categories – proved all but elusive.
Mageye now believes the jury might have intentionally denied his film some of the awards in order to even the competition and encourage other filmmakers. He suspects some of his competitors might have been awarded out of sympathy rather than for their artistic credibility.
“I don’t blame anyone. The judges did what they had to do. It would have been so boring to have one film taking all the awards,” Mageye said, adding he is keen to see how the situation will play out at other upcoming local film awards where he will likely faceoff against the same opposition.
For now, though, Mageye says his cast and crew are savouring the massive win which comes exactly a week after his previous film, Kings Virgin, won a prestigious accolade in Zanzibar. The film is about a debauched African King with a penchant for young virgin girls, and it dominated last year’s Piff, scooping five awards.
Elsewhere, as bonus for winning Best Actor and Best Actress awards at Piff 2014, Yasin Lubowa and Faridah Kutesa received scholarship bursaries courtesy of Mpooma Royal College. The duo will likely give the free study opportunity to their children or relatives in secondary school.
It was however a gloomy night for the second most-nominated film, Ensasagge, which walked away empty-handed despite its nine nods.
Filmmaker Muhamood Kyeyune, who hitherto had never won any award, collected two individual accolades for his work on two different films.
This writer on the other hand retained the Best Media Personality award, having win it last year with The Observer newspaper, while WBS TV was named Best Media House. Ugawood pioneer, Ashraf Ssemwogerere, was given the honorary lifetime achievement award but wasn’t in attendance to claim it.
This year’s festival largely stayed under the radar, and was undoubtedly the most disorganized of all Piff’s four editions since inception in 2011.
A limited budget forced organizers to take drastic cost-cutting measures, which in the end compromised the festival’s legacy as a multi-programmed cinema showcase with relevant workshops and glamorous awards.
An attempt to reach out to more audiences by taking their screenings to downtown video shacks (bibandas)terribly backfired as the festival lost its core fans who were used to it being held at the National Theatre, right in the heart of town.
There was also hardly any publicity, and most filmmakers ended up missing their screenings let alone the awards. The awards ceremony itself was hastily organized at a hotel poolside, and lacked the usual glitz that has come to be associated with the previous editions.
Despite the hitches, however, there’s no denying Piff’s contribution to the local film industry. It’s been a regular fixture on the local entertainment chart, and has grown to be the favored place to catch a real authentic Ugandan movie.
The festival has also been lauded for uniting uptown and downtown filmmaking factions through its various outreach programmes, and for providing a perfect networking platform for all industry players.
Piff awards, fondly known as ‘Ugandan Oscars’, are also seen by many as the benchmark for identifying the best film talents in the country.
The festival’s director and founder, Moses Magezi, said his team will work towards giving their audience a better showcase next year.
Full List of Winners
1. Best Feature Film –The Clan’s Wife
2. Best Director-Hassan Mageye (The Clan’s Wife)
3. Best Screenplay-Broken Silence (Paul Okurut & James Babalanda)
4. Best Editor-Williams Bbosa (The Clan’s Wife)
5. Best Actor-Yasin Lubowa (The Clan’s Wife)
6. Best Supporting Actor-Bbosa Sserunkuuma (Enkomerero)
7. Best Actress-Farida Kuteesa (The Clan’s Wife)
8. Best Supporting Actress-Jennifer Nakulima (Enyonta Etavumulwa)
9. Best Makeup & Costume Designer-Shakira Kibirige (The Clan’s Wife)
10. Best Sound-Run the World (Bobich Media)
11. Best Original Music Score-Akamuli (Jargezi Kibali, Hassan Mukasa, Joan Ndagire & Madina Nassali)
12. Best Director of Photography-Mohamood Kyeyune (Saakitegeera)
13. Best Set Design-Ensi Eno (Mohamood Kyeyune)
14. Best Short Film-Me Myself and I
15. Best Student Film-Breaking the Mesh (Kennedy Kihire, Mak University)
16. Best Action Film-Crazy World
17. Best Thriller/Horror Film-The Phantom Tales
18. Best Media Personality-Polly Kamukama (The Critic blog)
19. Best Media House-WBS TV
20. Lifetime Achievement Award-Ashraf Ssemwogerere