‘House Arrest’ wins Uganda film of the year award


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


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.

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.

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.


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

“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 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.

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.


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

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.

“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.

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.


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

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

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.


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

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.

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.


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

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.


Best Actor Farooq Mutebi dedicated the win to his wife.

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.


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

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



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