New film pays homage to dusty Kampala

POLLY KAMUKAMA

A new Ugandan film that delves into Kampala’s notorious image as a city that chokes on dust and fraudsters is set to premiere next month.

Aptly titled City of Dust, the feature film is a poignant story of broken dreams, greed and human ambitions as told through the experiences of its main character, a petty conman named Mugisha.

The film's lead actor, James King Bagyenzi (R), seen here in one of the scenes with fellow actor, Felix Bwanika.

The film’s lead actor, James King Bagyenzi (R), seen here in one of the scenes with fellow actor, Felix Bwanika.

Mugisha, played by James King Bagyenzi, gets his life turned around in a matter of days after coming into contact with a large sum of money.

As the plot unravels, and things begin to fall apart, the young man’s relationships and dreams are put to a serious test.

“It is partly inspired by my own experiences as well as those of my friends,” the film’s Korean-American director, Young Gul Kim, says of a project that started out as short film back in 2010.

The film will premiere at the National Theatre in Kampala on November 11, 2014.

The film will premiere at the National Theatre in Kampala on November 11, 2014.

The 24-year-old filmmaker, who has been living in Uganda with his expatriate parents since he was four, says he has been a victim of many violent muggings and con schemes from since he was a child growing up in the upscale suburb of Muyenga.

He thus set out to make a film that explores the causes and effects of making a living off scamming people.

While he sourced his story by talking to friends and fraudsters, Kim, who prefers to be called a storyteller rather than a filmmaker, came across many dramatic firsthand that could only be accommodated in a full-feature film.

Kim (with camera), then a 20-year-old student, is scene in this photo taken on the film's set in 2010.

Kim (with camera), then a 20-year-old student, is scene in this photo taken on the film’s set in 2010.

He had previously struggled to make a short film that went on to participate at the 2009 Amakula Film Festival in Kampala, but a feature proved to be a different beast all together.

To begin with, Kim had no script so much of the scenes in the film ended up being improvised by his friend and collaborator, the Ugandan actor and martial artist Carlos Ombonya.

The crime-drama then had to endure a lengthy hiatus as Kim traveled back to America to complete his studies in Interactive Entertainment.

James King Bagyenzi plays the film's lead actor, Mugisha, a conman and slum-dweller whose life takes a U-turn upon coming into contact with a huge sum of money.

James King Bagyenzi plays the film’s lead actor, Mugisha, a conman and slum-dweller whose life takes a U-turn upon coming into contact with a huge sum of money.

The University of Southern California graduate and son of academician parents also says he had to sell all his belongings to be able to raise the money needed for the film’s completion.

Now, the motor racing diehard who’s yet to acquire Ugandan citizenship despite having lived and studied here nearly all his life, is hopeful Dust will get the youth thinking about some of the decisions that they make.

Above all, however, he is optimistic the film will raise fresh awareness about the plight of street kids and slum-dwellers.

The film has been described as a portrait of shuttered dreams, and its producers hope that it  gets young people to think about the decisions they make in life.

The film has been described as a portrait of shuttered dreams, and its producers hope that it gets young people to think about the decisions they make in life.

City of Dust, a figurative play on Kampala’s bad image as a dusty city with many thugs, is described on its website as a story of one man in a city full of new and lost dreams.

Its one-minute forty five-second trailer doesn’t offer many details, but nonetheless gives some insights into Mugisha’s rather pitiful life before and after his dream jackpot.

In one scene, the stern-faced conman appears pensive as he wades his way through a filthy ghetto before being punched and manhandled by an angry-looking thug in another.

Dust boats a stellar cast including Bagyenzi, Ombonya, Felix Bwanika, Leone Menya and Maureen Jolly Nankya.

Tickets to the November 11 National Theatre premiere go for Shs 50, 000 and Shs, 15,000 for VIP and ordinary seats, respectively.

You can call 0786407144 to for bookings.

kamukamapolly@gmail.com

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