Social rejection, prejudice major themes at Amakula

ROGERS ATUKUNDA

Social inclusion is a central tenet in the World Bank Group’s dual goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity.

Governments have equally relied on media to sensitize masses against the alienation of individuals based on their social class, race, skin colour, educational status, gender or sexual orientation.

A scene from 'Felistas Fable'

A scene from ‘Felistas Fable’

The plight of such individuals has been covered by a number of films at the ongoing tenth annual Amakula International Film Festival.

Felistas

Thirty eight-year-old Ugandan filmmaker Dilman Dila uses his 90-minute film Felista Fable to give social misfits another lease of life.

The film, which yesterday showed at the ongoing Amakula international film festival held at the Uganda Museum, tells the story of Felista, a cursed reject who stinks badly. No one can stand her or stay near her, so she lives in seclusion in an abandoned house.

Her husband, neighbors and own daughter reject her. The woman who bewitched Felista and stole her man is also after her life.

One day, a witchdoctor finds a solution to her problems; a cry baby-man, Dan, can inherit her curse.

Dilman relies on excellent cinematography to tap the rural world of the witchdoctors as opposed to churches.

He contrasts the all-inclusive traditional religion that embraces and helps Felista with the ‘excluding’ Christianity of her husband and his new wife who expel her from her marital home.

In dark comic scenes, Dilman brings Felista together with Dan who is rejected by Kate, a girl he loves so much and wants to marry.

While Felista wants to stop smelling to be happy, poor Dan thinks all he needs is money.

Their church wedding, although controversial, gives the couple the happy life and societal acceptance they have been seeking.  

Rastasophical Mood

Congolese filmmaker Arnold Aganze tells a similar story in his 13-minute docu-drama Rastasophical Mood, which follows the story of a former child soldier from Congo who finds himself in Uganda.

Arnold Aganze discussing his film on a previous screening in Kampala

Arnold Aganze discussing his film on a previous screening in Kampala

He escapes a civil war in his south Kivu village, tries to integrate in the Ugandan society, but fails.

Aganze too contrasts the bustle of the insensitive town with the calm and welcoming outskirts that finally admit a former child soldier into a Kampala Rasta community that has lived through exclusion and isolation. He too finally meets a new family and can at last belong.

Chebet

Ugandan filmmaker Waheedah Mwagale tells yet another story of a social misfit in her debut 10-minute docu-drama Chebet.

Waheedah Mwagale at the Amakula festival yesterday

Waheedah Mwagale at the Amakula festival yesterday

In her film’s case, a 13-year-old girl from Kapchorwa becomes a reject because she cannot stand the culture of female genital mutilation.

Mwagale like Dilman uses shots of beautiful upcountry scenery including hills and plantations to present a communal rural lifestyle.

In Kapchorwa, people still believe in painful practices involving a partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for cultural reasons.

Chebet and her friend who have become rejects after fleeing the knife must leave their homes to start a new life.

In a voice over, the girls plead for protection from such practices that destroy the dignity of women.

All three films are in competition for awards at Amakula.

rogers@theinsider.ug

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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.