The Critic film blog gets new site

Our Reporter

Pioneering Ugandan film blog The Critic will tomorrow complete its upgrade process to a full-blown website under the new address thecriticug.com.

The popular site’s founder and editor, Polly Kamukama, said the transformation will bring about better and enhanced coverage of Ugandan cinema.

The Critic website's official logo

The Critic website’s official logo

“The plan is to run it as a normal newsroom with a small team of passionate reporters and editors that will endeavour to bring you the latest and most relevant news and reviews in the world of cinema,” an excited Kamukama said.

The award-winning film critic and journalist, who started the blog as a labour of love in 2013, said he was inspired by his huge global readership to upgrade it to a website.

At the start of this year, he teamed up with a few friends and fellow journalists to embark on the gruelling process of developing and launching the new site, based at Natik House in Old Kampala.

Initially slated for an April unveiling, the website suffered major financial and design setbacks, but Kamukama and team say they are now finally good to go.

“The delay has been a blessing in disguise because it has given us enough time to put all the necessary structures in place. We didn’t want to launch a half-baked product,” explained Nathan Mukiibi, one of the new partners and the website’s Managing Director.

According to Mukiibi, a journalist and documentary filmmaker, the new site boasts diverse content and highly- interactive features which were previously not offered on the basic wordpress blog.

Readers will be hoping the new website maintains the unique brand of online film journalism, deeply-rooted in the core principles of traditional media, which has made the blog a favoured source of film news in Uganda.

And with mainstream media continuing to sideline film, Hillary Muhebwa, another partner at The Critic, is hopeful the site will quickly pick up a following.

The Critic website is currently undergoing a testing phase where old articles will be migrated from the blog to the new site ahead of Wednesday’s launch.

Readers can still access the old blog on kamukamapolly.wordpress.com, although all new content will be posted on the website starting tomorrow.

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Jailed Ugandan actor wins ‘African Oscar’

POLLY KAMUKAMA

Currently in jail on multiple charges, Hassan ‘Spike’ Isingoma’s star shone so bright at yesterday’s African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in South Africa as the teenage Ugandan actor scooped Best Young/Promising Actor award.

The 19-year-old actor won the award courtesy of his compelling performance as lead character Abel – a young man given the responsibility of fending for his family riding a bodaboda (motorcycle commuter) – in the film Boda Boda Thieves.

Hassan 'Spike' Isingoma playing lead character Abel in 'Boda Boda Thieves'.

Hassan ‘Spike’ Isingoma playing lead character Abel in ‘Boda Boda Thieves’.

He shared the prestigious gong with Nigerian actress Kemi Lala Akindoju for the film Dazzling Mirage.

Isingoma, whose charismatic performance in the film was surprisingly overlooked at last month’s Uganda Film Festival (UFF) awards, is currently incarcerated at Luzira Maximum security prison on a string of serious offenses ranging from murder to robbery.

According to his mentor and Boda Boda Thieves director, Donald Mugisha, Isingoma’s case is ‘very complicated’ and the young actor faces a sentence of not less 10 years behind bars.

Reacting to news of the AMAA win, Mugisha said he hoped it would inspire the young actor to abandon his criminal life and focus on building a career as an actor.

Another on-set picture of Isingoma from the film 'Boda Boda Thieves'.

Another on-set picture of Isingoma from the film ‘Boda Boda Thieves’.

“I would personally love to work with him again because he is a very talented and passionate actor. He would however have to first promise to change his ways,” Mugisha told us in an exclusive interview earlier today.

The 33-year-old filmmaker said he hoped Isingoma, who became a father at the age of 15, would take some time off in his cold prison cell to reflect on his past mistakes.

Born and raised in the rough Kamwokya ghettos, it appears Isingoma fell in with the wrong crowd at a very early age.

His father, a petty thief, was killed by an angry mob after a botched heist, and his mother sold drugs to support the family.

At the tender age of eight, right about the time Mugisha scouted him for his first film Divizionz; Isingoma joined a notorious local gang calling themselves the Beach Boys.

Isingoma's onscreen mother, Prosy Rukundo, wasn't as lucky at the African Oscars yesterday.

Isingoma’s onscreen mother, Prosy Rukundo, wasn’t as lucky at the African Oscars yesterday.

The gang has a sadistic modus operandi in which its younger members are used as bait to start trouble, after which the older gangsters join in to beat and rob victims.

During the production of Boda Boda Thieves, Mugisha grew tired of having to halt filming time after time because Isingoma was either in jail or too high to act.

Some of the film’s scenes had to be done with a doppelganger, Mugisha has previously revealed.

Now, Isingoma can only celebrate his huge victory in a cold prison cell while awaiting a trial he will likely lose.

Only two Ugandans were in the running for the ‘Africa Oscar’ this year.

Isingoma’s Boda Boda Thieves co-star, Prosy Rukundo, lost out to Ghanaian actress Ama Amphofo from the movie Devil in Detail in the Best Supporting Actress category.

Timbuktu, the hard-hitting Mauritanian film on Islamic extremism, showed off its might by emerging the biggest winner of the night with three gongs including Best Film.

At the glamorous ceremony hosted in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, the first time in the annual awards’ 11-year history to hold outside Nigeria, it turned out to be a very disappointing night for local gangster film, iNumber Number, as it could only manage to win one of its 12 nods.

Hot-selling Nigerian drama-thriller and crowd favourite October 1by Kunle Afolayan, meanwhile squeezed in just two wins.

Uganda has a very poor record at Africa’s most prestigious film awards, but Mugisha is hopeful Isingoma’s victory will bring with it some inspiration.

kamukamapolly@gmail.com

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‘House Arrest’ wins big at Uganda film festival awards

POLLY KAMUKAMA

House Arrest, the latest cinematic offering from Ugandan filmmaker Joseph Ken Ssebagala, emerged as the biggest winner at this year’s Uganda Film Festival (UFF) awards, taking home a total of five accolades.

The feature film centred on witchcraft took home awards for Best Sound, Best Screenplay, Best Feature Film and Film of the Year at the glitzy ceremony held at Serena Hotel in Kampala last Friday.

"House Arrest' director Joseph Ken Ssebagala accepting one of his awards.

“House Arrest’ director Joseph Ken Ssebagala accepting one of his awards.

It also scored a controversial joint win in the Best Actress category with its talented lead Faridah Kuteesa sharing the award with close rival Nisha Kalema for The Tailor.

Donning a tux, 32-year-old Ssebagala could not contain his emotions as he took trips to the podium to claim prizes for a film he wrote, produced and directed.

UCC boss Godfrey Mutabazi with ICT minister Nyombi Tembo at the awards ceremony last Friday.

UCC boss Godfrey Mutabazi with ICT minister Nyombi Tembo at the awards ceremony last Friday.

It was particularly overwhelming for the soft-spoken multi-artiste as he relived painful memories of how he was forced to abandon the same film back in 2013, only to redo it in haste for the festival earlier this year.

“I’m just thankful to God and my entire team for inspiring me and giving me the resilience to redo this film. I was a little scared of the competition at first,” an excited Ssebagala told this blog after the awards.

The awards haul was a little too overwhelming for ssebagala since he had come down to the wire to redo 'House Arrest' in time for the festival

The awards haul was a little too overwhelming for ssebagala since he had come down to the wire to redo ‘House Arrest’ in time for the festival

The compelling drama-thriller about a lonely widow struggling with an evil spell and memories of her abusive late husband had headed to the awards with seven nods.

It only lost out to Boda Boda Thieves in the Best Cinematography and Best Post-production/Editing categories.

Internationally-funded Boda Boda, which had its premiere at the prestigious Berlin film festival in Germany this February, had been tipped by many as the frontrunner in the Best Actor category.

'Boda Boda Thieves' line producer, Bob Nyanzi accepting the award for Best Cinematography. The big budget film also won for Best Supporting Actor.

‘Boda Boda Thieves’ line producer, Bob Nyanzi accepting the award for Best Cinematography. The big budget film also won for Best Supporting Actor.

Its jailed teenage hero, Hassan ‘Spike’ Isingoma, however lost out to Farooq Mutebi for his physically-gruelling role in another Ssebagala film, Call 112, about human organ trafficking.

Director Hassan Mageye could not hide his disappointment after his hotly-billed film, The Tailor – a moving story of an estranged husband trying to make amends with his family before he succumbs to cancer – only managed to win two of its nine nominations including Best Supporting Actress for newcomer Fausta Nanziri.

Mageye was however full of praise for his winning cast particularly 22-year-old Nisha Kalema, whose sheer talent and meteoric breakout this year has caught many people’s attention.

'The Tailor' director Hassan Mageye (R) could not hide his disappointment after his film failed to win eight of its nine nominations.

‘The Tailor’ director Hassan Mageye (R) could not hide his disappointment after his film failed to win eight of its nine nominations.

“She brings immense freshness and intellect more than any other Ugandan actress that I know of currently. She is a genius,” Mageye gushed about the single mother-of-one who ditched journalism for acting.

In the Shorts category, Uganda-Danish collabo Walk with Me edged audience favourite A Dog Story, an LRA war-inspired flick about a runaway wife of a ruthless rebel leader.

Twenty one-year old newcomer Nisha Kalema was ecstatic to share the Best Actress award with veteran Faridah Kuteesa.

Twenty one-year old newcomer Nisha Kalema was ecstatic to share the Best Actress award with veteran Faridah Kuteesa.

Akattiro, a high school drama about sexual immorality and poor parenting, registered the biggest disappointment of the evening after it failed to win any of its five nominations.

The film’s writer and director, Sinan Kakembo, however told this blog that the snub would not deter him from his passion of making educative films.

A total of 30 films including shorts, features, animations and documentaries were nominated for awards in various categories at this year’s UFF.

Best Actor Farooq Mutebi dedicated the win to his wife.

Best Actor Farooq Mutebi dedicated the win to his wife.

Chairing the jury for the third consecutive year, Nigerian filmmaker and journalist Femi Odugbemi noted that there has been a significant improvement in the general quality of films submitted to the festival this year.

“We were delighted to see stories that beautifully captured Uganda’s rich culture and enchanting beauty. Most films also boasted good sound and cinematography unlike last year,” Odugbemi told the audience.

He however decried the trend of using the same cast in many movies, saying this limits the industry’s expansion and blocks out many potential actors who would otherwise have been hired through transparent casting procedures.

The Critic's Polly Kamukama posing with some of the UFF 2015 Awards winners (L-R) Faridah Kuteesa, Farooq Mutebi and Waheedah Mwagale

The Critic’s Polly Kamukama posing with some of the UFF 2015 Awards winners (L-R) Faridah Kuteesa, Farooq Mutebi and Waheedah Mwagale

Incepted in 2013 by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the national communications regulator, UFF seeks to promote local cinema by bringing together all stakeholders in a more organised environment.

This year’s edition, held August 24-28 under the theme ‘Celebrating Quality of Ugandan Film’, attracted a total of 132 films and featured screenings, workshops, forums and the awards gala.

'Walk with Me' producer Nathan Magoola accepting the award for Best Short film.

‘Walk with Me’ producer Nathan Magoola accepting the award for Best Short film.

Eddy Kenzo, Jose Chameleon, Irene Namatovu and Naira Ali provided the entertainment at the closing gala.

Acclaimed Hollywood producer and writer Michael Gozzard facilitated a masterclass on production while Zanzibar International Film Festival (Ziff) director, Prof Martin Mhando, was the keynote speaker at a financing forum.

The glitzy ceremony at Serena Hotel in Kampala attracted foreign dignitaries.

The glitzy ceremony at Serena Hotel in Kampala attracted foreign dignitaries.

There was a significant drop in the number of audience attendances this year, perhaps due to the festival’s poor publicity.

Some local filmmakers also feel that the big budget taxpayer –funded festival has failed to provide practical solutions to the core problems hampering the development of the local sector.

This year’s winners walked away with laptops and gongs, and Ssebagala will get a fully-sponsored trip to any international film festival of his choice as a bonus prize for his Film of the Year win.

Full List of UFF 2015 Award winners

 

Best Student Film

  1. African Child – Winner
  2. The Thief
  3. Revelation
  4. If I could, I would
  5. K-Free

Best Short

  1. Walk with Me – Winner
  2. Kyosiga’s Dream
  3. In Reality
  4. A Dog Story
  5. My Land

Best Animation

  1. Chimp Boda – Winner
  2. Dream UG 2050
  3. Malaria
  4. Super Human

Best Documentary

  1. Half a Dollar – Winner
  2. Hooked: Bilali’s Story
  3. King of the Road
  4. The Birth
  5. Boda Boda

Best Screenplay

  1. House Arrest – Winner
  2. Akattiro
  3. Call 112
  4. Boda Boda Thieves
  5. The Tailor

Best Cinematography

  1. Boda Boda Thieves – Winner
  2. House Arrest
  3. The Tailor
  4. Hanged for Love

Best Sound

  1. House Arrest – Winner
  2. Boda Boda Thieves
  3. The Tailor
  4. Hanged for Love

Best Costume

  1. Galz About Town – Winner
  2. The Curse 1870
  3. The Tailor
  4. Evil Mother
  5. Akattiro

Best Post Production/Editing

  1. Boda Boda Thieves – Winner
  2. House Arrest
  3. Akattiro
  4. The tailor

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Micheal Wawuyo Sr (Boda Boda thieves) – Winner
  2. Jakira Suudi (House Arrest)
  3. Rhonnie Rujumba (Hanged for Love)
  4. Robert ‘Bobi Wine’ Kyagulanyi (Situka)

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Fausta Nanziri (The Tailor) – Winner
  2. Damalie Orishaba (Galz About Town)
  3. Aaliyah Nanfuka (My Rising Sun)
  4. Rahmah Kadara (Akattiro)
  5. Hellen Lukoma (Situka)

Best Actress

  1. Faridah ‘Farshee’ Kuteesa (House Arrest) and Nisha Kalema (The Tailor) – Joint winners
  2. Deyby Wadsen (Hanged for Love)
  3. Fausta Nanziri (Galz About Town)

Best Actor

  1. Farooq Mutebi (Call 112) – Winner
  2. Hassan ‘Spike’ Insingoma (Boda Boda thieves)
  3. Hassan Mageye (The Tailor)
  4. Alex Kakooza (My Rising Sun)
  5. Rhonnie Rujumba (Hanged for Love)

Best Feature Film

  1. House Arrest – Winner
  2. The Tailor
  3. Boda Boda thieves
  4. Akattiro
  5. Call 112

Film of the Year (No Nominees)

  1. House Arrest – Winner

kamukamapolly@gmail.com

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Wande, short film on sex education, premieres tomorrow

POLLY KAMUKAMA

The debate on whether or not parents should teach their children about sex is the subject of a new Ugandan short film due to premiere tomorrow at the National Theatre in Kampala.

Titled Wande, the 40-minute film follows the life of a young girl who tries to abort after she gets pregnant from a first-time sex encounter.

Gerald Namanya seen here in a tense scene with Sharon Atuhaire.

Gerald Namanya seen here in a tense scene with Sharon Atuhaire.

“It’s a story about peer pressure, sex education and parenting told from an African perspective,” the film’s producer Gerald Namanya told this blog in an exclusive interview yesterday.

The 29-year-old filmmaker said he got inspired to tell the story after a personal experience in which one of his friends from school nearly lost her life following a botched abortion.

The film rotates around Wande (L) a good girl who gets pregnant from her first sex encounter and tries to abort.

The film rotates around Wande (L) a good girl who gets pregnant from her first sex encounter and tries to abort.

About Four months ago, he enlisted the help of his friends and regular collaborators, Samuel Kizito and Kevin Byaruhanga, to embark on the project as writer and director, respectively.

The film’s storyline revolves around its eponymous character Wande, played by Sharon Atuhaire, an upright girl from a strict but somewhat dysfunctional home who falls in with the wrong clique at university.

Director Kevin Byaruhanga sharing a light moment with one of his actresses in a behind-the-scenes photo.

Director Kevin Byaruhanga sharing a light moment with one of his actresses in a behind-the-scenes photo.

Soon, her new-found friends begin to help her overcome her inhibitions and explore a whole new world; and the effects are utter disastrous.

“We didn’t want to point fingers, so we tackled our major themes of early pregnancy, peer pressure and morality from a multiple point of view,” Byaruhanga said of the film that has received some considerable social media buzz ahead of tomorrow’s event.

Gerald Namanya, the film's producer, also plays Wande's love interest.

Gerald Namanya, the film’s producer, also plays Wande’s love interest.

It’s the second film in four months from Namanya and Byaruhanga partnership following the premiere of their other short film, Desk Review, in May.

The rather artistic duo is also responsible for producing what is considered Uganda’s first dance movie, the award-winning Game On, back in 2013, and are currently working on a sports drama due out next year.

Tickets to tomorrow’s event are selling at the National Theatre box office at Shs 10,000, and gates open at 6Pm.

kamukamapolly@gmail.com

 

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‘House Arrest’ the film to beat at UFF 2015 awards

POLLY KAMUKAMA

House Arrest, the latest cinematic offering from talented Ugandan filmmaker Joseph Ken Ssebagala, is leading the race to this year’s Uganda Film Festival (UFF) awards with a whooping seven nods.

According to a tentative nomination list exclusively acquired by this blog, the drama-thriller themed on sorcery has scooped nods in major categories including Best Feature Film, Film of the Year, Best Screenplay and Best Actress.

Faridah Kuteesa is up for a UFF Best Actress award courtesy of her compelling performance as a psychologically tortured woman in 'House Arrest'.

Faridah Kuteesa is up for a UFF Best Actress award courtesy of her compelling performance as a psychologically tortured woman in ‘House Arrest’.

It has also been recognized in Best Sound, Best Cinematography and Best Editing/Post Production categories.

“I knew we had a good film, but I could never have imagined that we would get all these nominations. It’s a great honour to me and the entire team,” an elated Ssebagala told us yesterday.

Actress Faridah Kuteesa as Alice in 'House Arrest'.

Actress Faridah Kuteesa as Alice in ‘House Arrest’.

The 32-year-old multi-artist, along with a few other nominees, was on Tuesday informed by phone about the nominations, although the final list is expected to come out later this week.

News of the film’s multiple nominations should indeed have came as a huge reprieve after the project suffered a major setback two years ago and had to be entirely reshot this March.

Joseph Ssebagala and Faridah Kuteesa seen here on the film's set back in March

Joseph Ssebagala and Faridah Kuteesa seen here on the film’s set back in March

In an earlier interview with this blog, Ssebagala revealed that he was forced to abandon the first version of the film in 2013 after he lost rights to access the principle location midway production.

He had to come down to the wire to finish the new version in time for the end-of-May submission deadline of the August 24-28 festival, where it will hold its premiere.

Kuteesa plays a bewitched and traumatized woman in the film

Kuteesa plays a bewitched and traumatized woman in the film

The English language picture, starring actress Faridah Kuteesa as a bewitched widow struggling with memories of abuse, is one of Ssebagala’s two films competing at the third annual edition of the premium local cinema showcase.

His other feature film, Call 112, a thriller loosely based on human body organ trafficking, will head to the August 28 awards with nods in the Best Screenplay and Best Actor categories following its Kampala premiere earlier this week.

'Boda Boda Thieves' teenage lead, Hassan 'Spike' Isingoma, is eyeing the Best Actor award, but will likely not attend the Aug 28 ceremony since he is in jail. The film got a total of five awards.

‘Boda Boda Thieves’ teenage lead, Hassan ‘Spike’ Isingoma, is eyeing the Best Actor award, but will likely not attend the Aug 28 ceremony since he is in jail. The film got a total of five awards.

Meanwhile, House Arrest faces tight competition from Boda Boda Thieves, with the latter film commanding a respectable five nods including Best Feature Film, Film of the Year and Best Actor (Hassan ‘Spike’ Insingoma).

Another new film that will premiere at the festival, The Tailor, from director Hassan Mageye, is eyeing six awards including Best Actress for talented newcomer, Nisha Kalema.

The $1m (about Shs3.2bn) budget Indian-Ugandan collabo, Luzira: Escape from Uganda, could only squeeze in three noms, while critical Luganda language drama Akatiiro scored two.

And in perhaps what is the biggest disappointment about the list, Bala Bala Sese, arguably one of the best films to come out of Uganda this year, was given the cold shoulder.

Many critics and fans who attended the beautifully-shot love story’s premiere at Theatre Labonita in Kampala last month will be left questioning the festival jury’s decision to snub it.

Other hotly-billed films such as Crafts, A Dog Story and The Road We Travel were equally left out in favor of In Reality, Walk with Me and Kyosiga’s Dream in the shorts category.

We could not ascertain the nominees in the Best Student Film category by press time.

Organised by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), UFF was incepted in 2013 as a rather belated effort by government to help promote the struggling local film industry.

The initiative, funded by tax-payers’ money, has often been criticized for failing to address the core problems affecting Ugandan filmmakers such as lack of funding and piracy.

This year’s festival, themed Celebrating Quality of Ugandan Film, takes place Aug 24-28 around Kampala, and will feature a host of programmes including screenings, workshops and a glamorous awards ceremony on the closing day.

Tentative List of UFF 2015 Nominees

Best Short Film

  • Kyosiga’s Dream
  • In Reality (Douglas ‘Benda’ Kasule)
  • My Land
  • Walk With Me

Best Animation

  • Dream Uganda 2050
  • Super Human
  • Chimp Boda

Best Documentary

  • Hooked: Bilali’s Story
  • King of the Road
  • Boda Boda

Best Actor

  • Hassan Mageye (The Tailor)
  • Farooq Mutebi (Call 112)
  • Hassan ‘Spike’ Insingoma (Boda Boda Thieves)

Best Actress

  • Nisha Kalema (The Tailor)
  • Faridah ‘Farshee’ Kuteesa (House Arrest)
  • Rima Kallingal (Luzira : Escape From Uganda)

Best Screenplay

  • House Arrest (Joseph K Ssebagala)
  • Akattiro : The Death Corner (Sinani Kakembo)
  • Call 122 (Joseph K Ssebagala)

Best Costume

  • The Curse 1870 (Ntega Posiano, Asimwe, Matega Ramech)
  • Galz About Town (Claire Nabwami, McQueen Fashion House)
  • The Tailor (Claire Nabwami, McQueen Fashion House)

Best Sound

  • House Arrest (Kazi Isaac Kasozi)
  • Luzira : Escape From Uganda (Mike Kanonya)
  • Boda Boda Thieves (Peter Miles)

Best Cinematography

  • Luzira : Escape From Uganda (Vishnu Sarma)
  • House Arrest (Joseph K Ssebagala)
  • The Tailor (Bobich Serunjongi)

Best Editing/Post-Production

  • Boda Boda Thieves (James Tayler)
  • House Arrest (Mike Kanonya)
  • Akattiro : The Death Corner (Abdallah Kabunga)

Best Feature Film 

  • The Tailor (Hakim Hackman Bagaruka & Hassan Mageye)
  • Boda Boda Thieves (Donald Mugisha)
  • House Arrest (Joseph K Ssebagala)

Film of the Year

  • The Tailor (Hakim Hackman Bagaruka & Hassan Mageye)
  • Boda Boda Thieves (Donald Mugisha)
  • House Arrest (Joseph K Ssebagala)

 kamukamapolly@gmail.com

 

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Ugandan human organ trafficking thriller premieres next week

POLLY KAMUKAMA

A Uganda film loosely based on the illicit trade in human organs is set to premiere Tuesday next week at National Theatre in Kampala.

Titled Call 112, the thriller chronicles two siblings’ desperate struggle for survival after they are kidnapped by a gang of human organ traffickers on their way from school.

FAMILY: The film tells the story of two siblings' struggle for survival after they are kidnapped by human organ traffickers.

FAMILY: The film tells the story of two siblings’ struggle for survival after they are kidnapped by human organ traffickers.

Speaking to this blog in an exclusive interview today, the film’s writer and director, Joseph Ken Ssebagala, said his story was partly inspired by a series of local newspaper articles he read in the past two years highlighting the vice.

“I got to understand the full scale of this heinous trade, and imagined the kind of trauma the victims and their families had to endure,” Ssebagala explained.

CAGED: Actress Fausta Nanziri seen here in a behind-the-scenes picture from the film.

CAGED: Actress Fausta Nanziri seen here in a behind-the-scenes picture from the film.

But with a meager self-funded budget of a ‘few million shillings’ and an urgency to tell the story quick, the 32-year-old filmmaker had to settle for simpler, easy-to-execute bits of the intricate and multi-layered international trade when he set out to produce the film via his Zenken Films studio this February.

He thus chose to focus on the psychological toll suffered by victims moments before they are robbed of their organs and left to die in cold blood.

Director Joseph Ken Ssebagala seen here on the film's set in February

Director Joseph Ken Ssebagala seen here on the film’s set in February

The storyline centres on two estranged siblings, Paul and Anna, played by Farooq Mutebi and Fausta Nanziri, respectively, who are drugged and kidnapped from a taxi while traveling back home from a university they both attend.

The duo quickly get to learn of their fate, and must race against time, using whatever means possible, to prevent their organs being scooped out and sold for a killing on the black market.

BLOODIED: Actor Farooq Mutebi in character as Paul

BLOODIED: Actor Farooq Mutebi in character as Paul

“It’s really a survival story, and partly an acknowledgment of the great efforts by Ugandan families, communities and law enforcers to combat this illegal trade,” Ssebagala said of the film that derives its title from the international distress call code.

The artistic Ugandan filmmaker had previously drummed up buzz for the film by posting a series of cryptic pictures online showing his actors locked up in metallic cages, bloodied and terrified.

The film’s official trailer, released to few views on YouTube last month, however gives a few brief details about what awaits audiences at the red-carpet unveiling next week.

The director previously kept the audience guessing by posting pictures of caged actors online.

The director previously kept the audience guessing by posting pictures of caged actors online.

The two-minute clip opens with what appears to be proof of the strained relationship between the siblings before cutting to the kidnap scene and then the distress call to police.

The short video further presents actor Jakira Suudi as the main antagonist, a dreadlocked psychopath known as ‘the Surgeon’, who seems to find pleasure in torturing his victims before cutting them open and scooping out their vital organs.

The 130-minute English language thriller might sound like a diversion from Ssebagala’s usual style of storytelling but the award-winning multi-artist admits it still carries some of his most favoured themes such as sex.

Call 112 is the first of two films to come from prolific Ssebagala this year.

His other piece, House Arrest, a compelling story of a bewitched widow struggling with memories of abuse, is slated for a festival premier at UFF later August.

Tickets to Tuesday’s show are selling at Shs10,000, and gates open at 6pm.

kamukamapolly@gmail.com

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Belgian-French film begins shooting in Kampala next month

POLLY KAMUKAMA

A multicultural thriller set in Uganda and three other countries will start shooting in Kampala mid next month.

Titled Papi, the feature film will follow the life of a Congolese man who finds a job in Kampala as a boda boda (motor-taxi) rider, and ends up striking a bond with a local girl with a troubled past.

Kjell Clarysse (2nd R) with Papi and the film's crew in Brussels ahead of the August 17 start of shoot in Kampala.

Kjell Clarysse (2nd R) with Papi and the film’s crew in Brussels ahead of the August 17 start of shoot in Kampala.

Speaking to this blog in an exclusive interview last week, the film’s writer and director, Kjell Clarysse, described his story as an African-European thriller about life and revenge.

“Each character in the film is totally unique from the other in terms of culture and background but yet they are all united together by a common factor,” Clarysse explained.

The 28-year-old Belgian filmmaker and photographer, who for the last two years has made short documentaries about Uganda for his home audience, is currently in Kampala to finalise production arrangements.

Papi rehearsing for his role in Brussels, Belgium ahead of the film's Kampala shoot next month.

Papi rehearsing for his role in Brussels, Belgium ahead of the film’s Kampala shoot next month.

Together with his local producer, one Rhona Ankunda, with whom he conceived and developed the idea for the film at the start of last year, they have lately been on a successful location scouting campaign across the city.

According to the film’s official Facebook page, ninety percent of it will be shot here in Kampala with a few additional scenes in Brussels and Paris as well as Congo.

The multi-lingo film will apparently revolve around the titular character Papi, a Congolese dandy whose simple life as a motor-taxi rider is turned around after he meets his first client – a Ugandan girl seeking revenge on a Belgian businessman.

An elderly Sapeur struts his stuff in the viral Guinness beer ad. The Congolese subculture has become a global hit in the world of fashion.

An elderly Sapeur struts his stuff in the viral Guinness beer ad. The Congolese subculture has become a global hit in the world of fashion.

Papi’s character is enhanced by his lifestyle as a member of the Sapeurs, a Congolese subculture renowned across the world for its flamboyant dress code.

Sapeur fashion has previously inspired a number of international documentaries, a viral Guinness beer ad and the music video for Losing You by American popstar Solange Knowelese.

“Both Kjell and I love fashion so we thought it would be cool to make it an integral part of our story,” Ankunda explained.

The 24-year-old video editor and documentarian will make her acting debut in the film as the revengeful girl, Rebecca.

Leading a predominantly Ugandan cast, Ankunda will star alongside a real life Congolese Sapeur known as Papi and a novice Belgian actor named Fredrik Declercq.

Legendary Congolese musician and pioneering Sapeur, Papa Wemba, will also make a cameo appearance in the film.

Papi, Declercq and Ankunda are all Clarysse’s close acquaintances whose real life experiences inspired the characters they will be playing in the film.

And for a film that will be shot in three weeks across two continents on a relatively small budget of $30,000 (about Shs98.7m), it seems a rather wise move to cast cheap non-professional actors.

Much of the film’s funding is expected to come from an ongoing crowdfunding campaign that has so far raised $2,040 (about Shs6.7m) and has only 34 days left to expire.

But with the services of a renowned Belgian cinematographer and everything else already secured, Clarysse and team are buoyant they will hit the target in time for the scheduled August 17 start of shoot.

They are however struggling to get a set of identical twin girls aged between seven and ten, and have now launched an open plea with a potential reward for whoever brings the little girls.

Papi comes hot on the heels of Queen of Katwe, the upcoming Hollywood biopic about the Ugandan chess prodigy Phionah Mutesi that was recently shot in Kampala.

Uganda’s rich history, vibrant culture and beautiful scenery have often been used as a backdrop for foreign films at the expense of the local industry itself.

It thus remains to be seen what Papi will bring to the table.

kamukamapolly@gmail.com

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