Second Euro-African film festival opens tomorrow

POLLY KAMUKAMA

High-flying Ugandan film, Boda Boda Thieves, will finally make its home debut next Saturday when it screens on the closing night of the second annual Euro-African Kampala Film Festival (EAKFF) which kicks off at The Hub cinema in Kampala tomorrow.

The feature film about a young city drifter, directed by Donald Mugisha, had its world premiere at the prestigious Berlin film festival in Germany this February, and has since made stops at a number of international festivals.

A scene from 'Boda Boda Thieves', the highly-anticipated Ugandan feature that will make its home debut on the closing night of the festival next Saturday.

A scene from ‘Boda Boda Thieves’, the highly-anticipated Ugandan feature that will make its home debut on the closing night of the festival next Saturday.

It had initially been slated to premiere in Uganda, where it was shot on location with the help of foreign grants and crewmen back in 2012, during this Easter, but was later withdrawn due to some technical shortcomings.

It’s producers however now say they can’t wait to bring the film home, where it has already inspired local filmmakers with its meticulous financing journey that saw it scoop over $225,000 (about Shs712m) worth of development grants.

“I think that Ugandans will be able to easily relate with the film because it is an honest reflection of our every-day struggles, especially young urbanites from low and middle class backgrounds,” Mugisha said of his Luganda language film whose outstanding teenage hero is currently serving a jail term for murder.

An EU delegation addressing festivalgoers at last year's EAKFF.

An EU delegation addressing festivalgoers at last year’s EAKFF.

Boda Boda is the only Ugandan feature selected to screen at the festival that bills itself as a meeting point between European and African cultures.

The other Ugandan representation is by way of seven Maisha Film Lab- supported shorts – including the award-winning post LRA war drama Haunted Souls – and a BBC-produced documentary on Uganda’s first Olympic Gold medallist, john Akii Bua.

But there is plenty of great European and African cinema to look forward to during the festival’s 12-day duration (June 16-27th) at Oasis Mall-based cinema.

A still from 'Grigris', the acclaimed Chadian film about a disabled break-dancer.

A still from ‘Grigris’, the acclaimed Chadian film about a disabled break-dancer.

Hit Italian film, La Nostra Terra, which highlights the country’s notorious Mafioso culture, will open the festival tomorrow at 7:30pm.

Also included in the eclectic pack is one of the hottest films of last year, the Oscar-winning Nazi war-inspired thriller Imitation Game, from UK.

Grigris, the compelling Chadian film about a disabled break-dancer that tantalized Cannes 2013, will also screen at the festival; and so will the acclaimed Angolan coming-of-age story of a child soldier, The Hero.

Africa Metropolis, an EU-backed anthology film comprising of six unique short stories from Urban Africa should also be a sure highlight.

Jean-Pierre Bekolo, the fearless Cameroonian filmmaker whose politically-charged satires have rendered him a fugitive in his own homeland, will facilitate a co-production workshop at the festival.

Speaking to journalists at a press conference last week, the EU’s First Counsellor to Uganda, Giorgio Ficcarelli, explained that the festival was aimed at promoting cultural ties between Uganda and Europe.

“The first edition was a trial, but now we have enriched the concept to explore the cultural diversity and richness of the European and Ugandan creative industries, as well as to open doors for possible collaborations amongst professionals from either side,” Ficcarelli said, thanking a number of local partners including Maisha, KCCA, Africell-Uganda and Alliance Française.

Ficcarelli also hinted on the possibility of lobbying EU in the near future to champion the quest for a regional film commission that would eliminate any barriers currently hindering collaboration amongst African filmmakers.

On their part, Maisha, who last year benefited from EU’s so-called ACP fund that seeks to support filmmakers from developing economies, will conduct writing masterclasses at the festival.

Festivalgoers will have to part with Shs3,000 entry fee per screening, and will in turn enjoy a cool experience complete with free internet access, refreshments and a children’s play area.

kamukamapolly@gmail.com

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