Kampala Film School making strides

Kampala Film School building in Ggaba, Wakiso

Kampala Film School building in Ggaba, Wakiso

By Collins Kakwezi

Kampala Film School, the pioneering film school in Uganda, is making steady progress in nurturing talent for the local film industry, if what the school showcased at the opening two days of the Amakula International Film Festival 2018, is anything to go by.

Students from the Film School managed to submit a number of films for this year’s festival. Short films like Idi Amin’s boat directed by Grace Nabisenke, The Last breath by Jordan Ndawula and Zzina by Joyce Kirabo were nominated in the Best Student film category for the Golden Impala Award, set to be given out on the festival’s climax on Saturday. Arthur, a documentary done by Ndawula, was also nominated for best documentary.

According to the School’s Head of Studies, Cristiano Civitillo, the school was progressing at a snail’s pace when he inherited its leadership one and a half years ago.

“The school started from nothing in 2010. The pioneering Head of Studies managed to acquire almost all the equipment we have today, for free. But when he left, it stalled a bit,” Civitillo, a film maker himself, told this website.

Civitillo reveals that he took the bold step of hiring local staff to take over teaching duties at the school, most of whom were former colleagues in the job market.

“I used to do production work for various companies, most especially telecoms, and the different producers I was working with were the very people I hired to teach these students, since they had hands-on experience,” he revealed.

The School's Head of Studies, Cristiano Civitillo, speaking at the festival's launch yesterday

The School’s Head of Studies, Cristiano Civitillo, speaking at the festival’s launch on Wednesday.

And this move worked. The local teachers, who were themselves film experts, managed to impart their skills in the students, and later when many graduated, they got direct access to the job market, through the connections between their teachers and prospective clients.

Today, Kampala Film School boasts of a range of trained alumni in the film industry across the country and the whole region.

Grace Nabisenke, a film maker and student at the school, believes the different film aspects taught here give the school’s graduates an edge over other aspiring film makers.

“Because I have formal film training, when I am doing a project, I consider all the technical aspects, which may not be readily known to the untrained mind.” Nabisenke says.

The school trains students in a wide range of film subjects like Documentary History and Theory, Film Analysis, Animation and Visual Effects, Production Techniques, Documentary Methods, Special Effects, and Makeup and Costumes, among others.

Civittillo however believes more input is needed if the school expects to help the local film industry to achieve its full potential.

“I believe our performance is at the 20% mark of what we can do. We have to raise the bar to get better, and be more experimental and brave in our storytelling,” he points out.

He however believes that if students are given more exposure at film festivals like Amakula International Film Festival, as was the case this time round, the longstanding barriers to full potential can be overcome.

Students at the film school fully participated in this year’s Amakula International Film festival, taking part in different eye opening activities like the film masterclass, screenings, seminars on film regulation and marketing, as well as showcasing some of their own projects.

They also got the opportunity to gauge various international projects against theirs, learning from more trained and exposed film makers in the process, not mentioning networking and promotion of their own projects to a wider local and international audience.

And with continued partnerships with festivals like Amakula, Kampala Film School is poised to fill the gaping gap in Uganda’s promising, but unexploited film industry.

Email the writer: zikcol@yahoo.com

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The Amakula International Film Festival is presented by Bayimba Cultural Foundation in partnership with The DOEN Foundation, Africalia, Kampala Film School and the Uganda Museum.