Ugandan film Felistas Fable lived up to its billing by emerging the biggest winner at this year’s Uganda Film Festival (UFF) awards held at Serena Hotel in Kampala last Friday.
Loosely inspired by the plight of fistula sufferers, the comedy-drama won four of its seven nominations, taking home awards for Best Feature Film, Film of the Year, Best Screenplay and Best Actor.
Written and directed by self-taught filmmaker, Dilman Dila, the picture headed to the glitzy ceremony a clear favorite having topped the nomination list and impressed audiences during its two screenings at the festival.
Dila, who got a $10,000 (about Shs26m) grant from Sweden’s Goteborg International Film Festival (GIFF) to make the film, had also publically spoken of his film’s good chances in the days leading up to the awards.
Eventually, however, the awards for Best Sound, Best Editing and Best Actress (Joanita Bewulira-Wandera) proved all but elusive as his film lost out to Zamora, The Superstition and The Clan’s Wife (Faridah Kuteesa), respectively.
“This means a lot to me because it is the first time I am being recognized for my work in Uganda,” an elated Dila said as he accepted his Film of the Year award, which comes with a bonus prize of a fully-sponsored trip to an international film festival of the recipient’s choice.
And the big win rather came as a huge moment of relief for Dila and his film after an unsuccessful spell at the African Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) and the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) earlier this year.
It was also reminiscent of the awards’ debut edition last year where the historical drama, State Research Bureau (SRB) dominated the event, taking home three awards.
Elsewhere, Superstition got the biggest disappointment of the night by winning only one of its six nods. Its makers however looked at the up side of things for the film about child sacrifice.
“We feel honored to be rewarded for telling this human interest story, and we hope the film will contribute towards the fight against this despicable practice,” the film’s debutant producer and director, Paresh Gondaliya, told this blog revealing the film has already been selected to participate at this year’s Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF) due for October in California, USA.
Tanzanian film, Zamora, on the other hand won two of its four nods – Best Sound and Best Cinematography – while high school drama, Reform, and the hit comedy, Spying on Susana, could not make any good of their multiple nominations in the tight 12-category competition.
Faridah Kuteesa convincingly won the Best Actress award, but it was rather a night-to-forget for her veteran Clan’s Wife co-star Yasin Lubowa who lost out to comedian Isaac Kuddzu for the Best Actor gong.
Kuddzu celebrated his win by tightly hugging South African actress, Rosie Motene, who was – along with Nigeria’s Patience Ozokwor – the star guest at the ceremony.
Kuddzu the belted out what was perhaps the heartiest speech of the night in which he dedicated his win to all the single mothers in Uganda. The former Hostel actor was single-handedly brought up by his mother, who also introduced him to acting at an early age.
The Best Short Film award deservedly went to Crying for Help, a daunting tale of a young rape victim’s quest for justice in a corrupt community. The film’s novice director, Daniel Komakech, said he would get a king’s welcome upon return to his war-ravaged hometown of Gulu.
All of this year’s winners received a brand new laptop, a golden crested crane-shaped statuette and a huge plaque.
A total of 18 films – six features, five shorts, four animations and two documentaries – were up for UFF 2014 awards, with each of the 12 categories comprising of three nominees.
Head jury Femi Odugbemi, a Nigerian filmmaker and cinema expert, noted that most of the competing films had poor sound and editing. He however praised the level of acting and animation, but urged the Ugandan government to put more emphasis training filmmakers.
Organised by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Uganda Film Festival debuted last year with an aim of providing a networking, exhibition and capacity building platform for local cinema.
This year’s festival, which culminated into Friday’s awards, was held under the theme Empowering Ugandans through Film. A total of 179 films participated including 13 non-Ugandan titles.
The weeklong festival also included forums, master classes, workshops, panel discussions and a film expo at various venues across Kampala.
UCC Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi, challenged Ugandan filmmakers to take advantage of renewed government commitments in supporting the burgeoning industry.
Chief Guest and Minister for ICT Nyombi Tembo on the other hand called for more support for theatre, which he said is the backbone of Ugandan cinema.
Full list of the winners
- Film of the Year – Felistas Fable
- Best Feature Film – Felistas Fable
- Best Screenplay – Felistas Fable
- Best Cinematography – Zamora
- Best editing/Post Production – Superstition
- Best Sound – Zamora
- Best Actor – Isaac Kuddzu (Felistas Fable)
- Best Actress – Faridah Kuteesa (The Clan’s Wife)
- Best Short Film – Crying for Help
- Best Student Film – The 7-11
- Best Animation – The Vow
- Best Documentary – Hooked: Joe’s Story
- Lifetime Achievement Award – John Wilson Katende (founder/director, The Ebonies)
- Special Mention – Rachael Nduhukire (child actor, I Found My Way)