The second edition of the Uganda Film Festival (UFF) kicks off on Monday with local filmmakers and fans already gearing up for a thrilling weeklong showcase.
And with this year’s festival boasting a whooping 170-plus selection – including 16 films eyeing awards – tensions are high as to which movies will steal the show.
We spent the last one month watching all the participating films, and we thought it would be helpful to take a look at the lineup and share some of the titles we are most excited about. These films may not necessarily be the best (you will realize some of them haven’t even been nominated) but they sure do stand out in one way or the other.
In no particular order, here are our top ten must-watch films at UFF 2014.
1. Crying for Help (Daniel Komakech)
Shot in Gulu, this Best Short award contender is no doubt one of the best films at the festival. It tells the story of a young rape victim’s quest for justice in a crime-riddled community with a corrupt police system.
The film amazingly makes up for its depressing subject matter with a beautiful setting in the form of tall green bushes, round huts and catchy adungu tunes. It’s even more refreshing to know that it was produced by a bunch of novices in a region that is still healing from 20 years of bloody conflict.
2. The Invasion (Ali Mikenga)
For a long time now, clichéd dramas about love and witchcraft have been the bedrock of Ugandan cinema. A new crop of filmmakers, including Mikenga, is however pushing the envelope and venturing into more daring genres like sci-fi, animations and horrors.
In this particular short futuristic sci-fi, Uganda is at war with aliens which have invaded the country in search of a priceless mineral. Although its visuals are far from stunning, it’s a groundbreaking film in the area of local sci-fis.
3. Zamora (Shams Bhanji)
This is actually a Tanzanian film but nonetheless it is participating at the Ugandan festival. It is shot in the mystical and mythological island of Zanzibar at tells the story of its eponymous character, a vain artist and serial womanizer on a road to self discovery.
The film is very strong in the technical departments with its cinematography – enriched by Zanzibar’s cryptic streets, mixed culture and sprawling ocean – arguably the best of all the films.
The film was shot and edited by Ugandan-based French filmmaker Cyril Ducottet, and stars Big Brother Africa II winner Richard Bezuidenhout and the 2007 Miss Tanzania, Richa Adhia. It’s up for four awards.
4. Spying On Susana (Robert Nkambo)
This is no doubt the best Ugandan comedy ever made. It revolves around a man, Mose (Anthony Itwara) who sets out to spy on his wife after suspecting she’s having an affair. He enlists the help of his friend Max (Godwin Otwoma) but the duo’s mission takes a drastic (and comic) twist when they get entangled in a robbery scheme.
Its hilarious nature, infectious soundtrack and crisp editing will surely hit you. The film may be up for two awards, but to think that Otwoma is missing on the nom list is a total insult.
5. The Felistas Fable (Dilman Dila)
A smelly woman kidnaps a cry-baby man in a quest to break a curse and regain her beauty in this exciting comedy-drama loosely inspired by the plight of fistula sufferers.
This film represented Uganda at this year’s ‘African Oscars’ and is now heading to UFF as the topmost contender with a whooping seven nods. Great sound and acting… there’s also one explicit sex scene that made headlines earlier on this year.
6. Echoes of Love (Dan Mugisha)
With no dialogue and only eight minutes as its total runtime, this film effectively combines all the classic elements of storytelling, delivering twists and turns at the tick of a second.
I personally loved the plot – an impoverished village couple finds bliss in lavishing one another with cheap gifts bought after making the ultimate sacrifice. This is a film that will melt even the most hardened hearts.
7. The Clan’s Wife (Hassan Mageye)
I worked on this film as a script doctor, adviser and publicist. I even gave it its name (it was originally titled My Culture). It’s a great Ugandan story with a broader appeal, the typical style of Mageye.
The film is set in mid-80s Ankole at the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and puts into perspective the barbaric practice of wife inheritance and how it fueled the deadly disease. The film won six awards at the Pearl International Film Festival (Piff) in June, and both its lead actor and actress – Yasin Lubowa and Faridah Kutesa – are up for accolades.
8. On the Line (Denis Onen)
This shocking short film is every parent’s nightmare. It’s a tale of how hard drugs use is on the raise among Ugandan youths. It contains several explicit scenes of drunken youngsters snorting cocaine and engaging in risky sexual behavior.
9. Ten Years a Night (Ali Mikenga)
Apparently based on a true story, this drama-thriller is set in the course of one rainy night where one young man’s world falls apart through a series of unfortunate events. He finds himself facing a life sentence by morning time.
The film is well edited and its script was written with a surgeon’s precision – every second that passes brings more chills. The fact that this film is missing on the nomination list can be seen as proof that the judges faulted in their job.
10. Beauty to Ashes (Irene Kulabako)
You will never see Patricko Mujuuka in any better performance than he delivered in this compelling AIDS drama. The film focuses on the dangers of living in denial and failure to reveal one’s status. It also addresses topical themes of promiscuity, cross-generational sex and parental negligence.
The film is only screening out of competition because its director felt a conflict of interest having worked with Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the festival’s organizers, on some projects.
- Reform(Joseph Ken Ssebagala)
- The Zamrock Survivors (A24 Media)
- The Superstition (Paresh Gondaliya)
- Stone Cold (Irene Kulabako)
- Nyugunya (Vince Musisi)
N.B: Don’t miss our serial UFF 2014 awards prediction reviews beginning tomorrow.