Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has today launched the third edition of their annual Uganda Film Festival (UFF).
A far cry from last year’s swanky launch that had popular Nigerian actress, Patience Ozokwor, as the chief guest, the communications regulatory body has this year settled for a rather quiet unveiling in the form of a press advert.
It is understood UCC, which is tasked with among other duties regulating film distribution and exhibition in Uganda, went for the soft launch due to budgetary constraints.
The launch also marks the opening of film submissions, which will run up to May 29, exactly a month from now.
The festival itself will take place August 24-28, and will as usual make use of major cinemas around Kampala.
The five-day showcase will feature screenings, workshops, master classes, a film expo and panel discussions, and will wind out with a glamorous awards ceremony where the most outstanding Ugandan films will be rewarded.
The festival, one of the efforts by government to promote the budding local film industry, accepts all kinds of films from across the East African region, and is quite popular within the Ugandan film fraternity.
But UFF has already had its fair share of criticism since debuting in 2013.
Some people for example feel that UCC should have instead reached out to financially-struggling festivals like Pearl International Film Festival (PIFF) or better still established a film fund.
UFF has nonetheless quickly positioned itself as a festival of choice, bridging the gaps amongst various industry stakeholders, and using its hefty taxpayer-funded budget to popularize Ugandan cinema through the media and upcountry tours.
The early launch is meant to give organizers enough time to scrutinize the submitted films and come up with a quality lineup to match this year’s theme, ‘Celebrating Quality of Ugandan film’.
Among the Ugandan films expected to highlight this year’s festival is Bala Bala sese, an inspiring lovestory with a tinge of AIDS set on the idyllic Sese Islands of Lake Victoria, and Boda Boda Thieves, described as an ‘African remix’ of the great Italian classic Bicycle Thieves.
Boda Boda Thieves’ teenage lead actor Hassan ‘Spike’ Isingoma, whose amazing portrayal of a young man coming of age in a city filled with boda bodas and thugs should unequivocally land him the Best Actor trophy come the awards night, will however miss the festival due to a lengthy murder conviction he’s currently serving at Luzira prison.
Nascent Indian-Ugandan filmmaker, Jayant Maru, could also get some redemption via his latest piece, Kate & Kent, a serious film about dyslexia, after his debut film The Route was overlooked at the debut UFF awards and went on to be banned in Tanzania late last year apparently for showing too much sex.
Two new competition categories –Best Costumes and Best Regional Film – have been introduced to bring the total number of awards to be given out to 16.
Meanwhile, the biggest winners of UFF awards’ two previous editions, Matt Bish and Dilman Dila, respectively, don’t seem to have any new material to showcase this year.