Uganda: Amakula Festival Gets Better


RAS Jingo is one of the organisers of the increasingly annual Amakula Film Festival in Kampala and in an interview with David Tumusiime of the New Vision, he spoke about this year’s Festival which has just finished.

What is the Amakula Festival?

Amakula's always a 10-day film festival and this year it runs from May 3 to 13 at the National Theater and in 30 video halls in all the five divisions of Kampala. Some of these are Kawempe Young Boyz, Pentagon Videos in Natete and Gunners Video Hall in Kisenyi. The festival's been going since 2004 but and theme this year is "Travels, transit".

The theme is Travel, Transit because of the state of our society today. I mean if you look at the way we live, we are constantly travelling, in some sort of journey - we're mobile. Most of the films made by Africans are about the journey to the Diaspora or the journey back home. Films are a medium that take you places. We know about most places because we have seen them in a film. Through film you get to travel to different places all in the comfort of your living room! That's why it's our theme this year.

What’s in the Festival this year?

We have over 200 movies this year, from all over the world! Thirteen of them are entries from Uganda that will surprise people with their quality. We got entries from people like Ashraf Ssemogerere with Murder in the City, the short version, so you can get a chance to see why it got him kidnapped! The South African movie Son of Man: Modern Story of Jesus Christ is a must-watch! Then of course we have our international films like Borat, Catch A Fire, Dave Chapelle's Block Party and many others. The best thing about Amakula is that it's free entry for everyone!

What has the Amakula Festival’s influence been?

In Amakula's four years, the best change I have seen is the increase in the number and quality of movies Ugandans are submitting to the festival. Before, the only Ugandan movies that were being made were NGO movies - you know movies a filmmaker was contracted to make by an NGO, so they did not belong to the filmmakers. The festival has consistently encouraged creativity and it's beginning to show! The industry's growing.

In 2005 we introduced a section called The Golden Impala East African Short Film Competition that is meant to give films shown in the competition a chance on the international scene by giving them more exposure in international festivals. I'm proud to report that the 2006 winner of the Impala, Donald Mugisha, has not disappointed and has gone on to release Divisionz this year!

New Vision, Kampala, 5 May 2007