Bala Bala Sese and Boda Boda Thieves, two of Uganda’s biggest films last year, will vie for the $4,000 (about Shs13.8m) top prize at this year’s Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF)due to hold March 17-23 in Egypt.
The two Luganda language pictures are among a total of 13 titles selected from across the continent to compete in the annual festival’s Long Features category this year.
Speaking to this website in an exclusive interview today, Bala Bala Sese director Bashir Lukyamuzi said it was an honour to be recognized by the famous pan African festival.
“I feel both humbled and excited by the selection. It’s the first time I’m going to an international film festival so I look forward to making the best of it,” the 29-year-old pioneering music video director and debutant filmmaker said.
The recognition is understandably overwhelming for Lukyamuzi considering his film got a raw deal on the local festival and awards circuit despite critical acclaim.
Set on the idyllic Sese Islands of Lake Victoria and starring the power couple of Micheal Kasaija and Natasha Sinayobye, Bala Bala tells the story of a young couple whose love is put to the test.
Many local industry followers expected the film to dominate the Uganda Film Festival (UFF) Awards last August but it instead ended up not making the cut.
Internationally-funded Boda Boda Thieves, a film about a young city hustler directed by Donald Mugisha, on the other hand bagged two awards at UFF 2015 following a highly-billed premiere at the Berlinale festival in Germany earlier in February.
Now, the two films will face off on a whole different turf come next month, with their biggest competition coming in the form of the high-flying Ethiopian film Lamb, which last year became the country’s first ever Oscar entry.
Now in its fifth edition, LAFF is famous for feting its winning films with cash rewards and mask-shaped gongs resembling the face of legendary Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun.
This year, the festival’s competition section comprises of five categories: Long Features, Long Documentaries, Shorts, Student Film and the Freedom & Human Rights category.
The first and second best films in the Features and Documentary categories receive a bonus cash reward of $4,000 (about Shs13.8m) and $3,000 (Shs10.4m), respectively.
Two other Ugandan films, White Faces (Robert Katogo) and Kai: The Vendor (Robert Nyanzi), are also competing in the Shorts category at this year’s LAFF with the former marking its debut.
Organised by the Independent Shabab Foundation, an NGO in Egypt under the auspice of the country’s Ministry of Culture, LAFF aims to promote screening of African movies in the North African Country.
This year’s edition is dedicated to the memory of the late and great Egyptian film star Omar Sharif, Moroccan critic Mustafa Elmesnawy and director Henry Duparc from Cote D’Ivoire, and boasts an eclectic programming including master classes, film screenings and practical workshops.
Cote D’Ivoire has been chosen as the country guest of honor this year in honour of the fiftieth anniversary of the first production of an Ivorian film.