Hassan Mageye will be looking to consolidate his reputation as one of the most prolific and critical Ugandan filmmakers when he premieres his latest film at Bat Valley Theatre next Friday.
The award-winning filmmaker has earned a reputation for telling authentic African stories that challenge some of the long-standing traditional values.
His latest effort however sees him venture into a whole new genre in the form of an urban-set drama thriller about one of the major problems facing urban Africa.
Titled Galz About Town, the film delves into the seedy world of prostitution in Kampala, carefully weaving together the causes and consequences of earning a living through selling sex.
“It is a story of sex, money and greed as told through the experiences of a group of girls,” the 32-year-old filmmaker told this blog in an exclusive interview earlier this week.
The English language feature, penned by Mageye’s protégé and one of the most promising Ugandan screenwriters, Waheedah Mwagale, follows the story of three best friends who graduate from university but struggle to find formal jobs.
With limited options and a load of responsibilities up their shoulders, the girls slowly drift into the illicit world of commercial sex trade where they quickly become masters and start setting their own rules.
“These are not your everyday prostitutes because they are educated and empowered. It might as well be your classmate or workmate,” Mageye said adding that his research led him to an alarming discovery that elite women too have been hawking their bodies lately.
He also bore witness to the harrowing risks the girls of the night take every day to survive, and came to a surprise conclusion that men are the real perpetrators of prostitution.
The film’s starring cast comprising of Nisha Kalema, Damalie Orishaba and Fausta Nanziri underwent intensive preparation for their roles and share similar sentiments.
“I was treated like a piece of trash which really made me feel sick, worthless and hateful towards men,” 21-year-old Kalema said of her experience working the streets for one night as part of her preps for the character of Clara.
Nanziri, 22, on the other hand had to learn to smoke in order to nail her role as Gina, the youngest of the trio who gets introduced to the trade by the older girls but grows to outshine them in picking up men.
The film features a strong supporting cast including Ronnie Lujjumba, Jakirah Ssudi, Denis Josiah and Farouq Mutebi, all turning up as the girls’ lovers and sidekicks.
Mutebi, who is usually typecast as a loverboy, received news of his dad’s passing in the middle of shooting a scene earlier this year but nonetheless insisted on finishing his takes.
His strange show of courage has since motivated the team to work even harder to get the film ready for the March 20 premiere at Bat Valley in Kampala.
Galz About Town, whose trailer is available here, is Mageye’s second film in less than a year following the debut of Clan’s Wife at Pearl International Film Festival (Piff) last May where it swept the board with six awards.
The film went on to win Best Actress award (Farida Kutesa) at Uganda Film Festival (UFF) three months later, and is now poised to make it into this year’s Zanzibar International Film Festival (Ziff) where Mageye’s previous film, King’s Virgin, scooped Best East African Film accolade last year.