The 11th Edition of the Amakula International Film Festival took place from 14th-17th March, with the first segment (14th-15th), being hosted by the Kampala Film School in Ggaba, and the second at the Uganda Museum in Kamwokya.
It was quite an enjoyable event, though it was not without a few glitches. In this article, I look at what went well and what went wrong at the festival.
Kampala Film School hosting the first two days of the festival was a good move on behalf of Bayimba Foundation, the organizers. Not only is the school a partner of Bayimba, but it is the oldest film school in the country, and has trained a number of professionals in the film sector. Students got the opportunity to meet and interact with many local and international film experts, and also got the chance to have their films screened at the festival to a wider audience. Arthur, a documentary by Jordan Ndawula, and short stories like The Last Breath, still by Ndawula, Idi Amin’s boat by Grace Nabisenge and Zzina by Joyce Kirabo, were screened at the festival.
The Film Masterclass, adequately named ‘Staging for film’, was organized to teach film makers about how they can make better pictures. It was an insightful session, facilitated by German film maker Tom Schreiber, and he seemed to be in sync with his audience, even holding an interactive session. Those who attended definitely left as better film makers.
One of the highlights of the festival was the drive in cinema, where the audience watched movies from the comfort of their cars with headsets. Those without cars were not left out though, as they were given space to sit and equally enjoy the films on show.
The Golden Impala Award, where a new category of Best Student Film was introduced this year, awed the audience. Kampala Film School’s Grace Nabisenke won this award for her short film Idi Amin’s boat. Best documentary went to Jethro X Jethro and best feature film was taken by Samuel Kizito’s The Forbidden. Guests were first treated to a cocktail, which is usually the favourite part for many.
The turn up was less than desirable, so to say. The first two days of the festival at the Kampala Film School were set aside for screening of short films and documentaries, but the turn up was very poor. The film lab, where the screenings were taking place was virtually empty throughout the second day, though most people blamed the relentless rain for this.
During the drive in cinema on Friday, the first movie on show was Rain. But guests were interrupted midway into the film due to a technical glitch as the screen went off for about five minutes. This left many wondering whether the organizers had done their homework about the drive in cinema setting.
German film expert and movie director, Tom Schreiber, who was invited to facilitate the film master class, which was also the opening event of the festival, lost his camera to crooks. The unsuspecting Schreiber was tricked by a man who masqueraded as a journalist and sought to ‘borrow’ his camera to shoot a video. It was embarrassing on the behalf of the organizers to have their guest robbed of his quite expensive gadget.
Bayimba Foundation, the organizers, should try to do more marketing next year. Though virtually all media houses were invited for the festival, the coverage in the run up to the actual bonanza was inadequate. This probably explains why the turn up was not very good. Media should be engaged to sensitize the people about the festival beforehand, not forgetting adoption of a vigorous social media campaign all year round.
Enough test runs should be done for the drive in cinema setting next time, to avoid embarrassments like the one experienced during the Friday screening of Rain. However, the activity should be maintained as it has the potential of being the flagship event of the festival.
Security should be always beefed up at the festival. It was embarrassing for a guest to lose a camera, in such a way. If security had been tight, the thief would have probably been apprehended at the gate.
Also, there should be security checks at the gate to ensure safety. It couldn’t go without noticing that at the Kampala Film School segment of the festival, there were no security checks at all, and people came and went as they wished. This should be worked on next time.