After spending nearly five years in the making, Ugandan film The Boda Boda Thieves finally held its world premiere at the ongoing Berlin International Film Festival (BIFF) in Germany yesterday.
Directed by Donald Mugisha, the local picture is scheduled for three other screenings before the prestigious annual festival, now in its 65th year running, bows out on February 15.
Taking to Facebook to share pictures from the ‘sold out’ premiere in the Germany capital, Bob Nyanzi, one of the film’s producers, said it was well received by critics and the audience alike.
Though inspired by the iconic Italian Neo-realistic film Bicycle Thieves by director Vittorio de Sica, Mugisha has consistently pointed out that his Luganda language film is not a scene-by-scene remake of the great classic.
It is instead set against the backdrop of the vibrant and precarious world of motorbike commuters, locally known as boda boda, in crime-ridden Kampala.
It follows the story of a teenage hustler whose life is turned upside down after he inherits his father’s boda boda. Slowly, he drifts into a world of crime while trying to seek justice at the same time.
The film is an international co-production between Uganda, South Africa, Netherlands and Germany, and has garnered respect in indie filmmaking realms across the world for its vigorous funding approach.
It was submitted into– and subsequently won – a number of monetary and technical awards from international funders, which greatly eased its production.
The production process itself however was dogged by a number of inconveniences ranging from travel hitches on the side of the film’s international crew to the deadly Ebola outbreak in 2012.
Producers at some point also had to work minus the lead actor, Hassan ‘Spike’ Isingoma, due to his continuous run-ins with the law.
The talented youngster, who first collaborated with Mugisha on his debut film Divizions, is even believed to be currently serving time at Luzira Prison.
Boda Boda Thieves will premiere in Kampala soon after Berlin.