2nd Amakula Kampala International Film Festival

2nd Amakula Kampala International Film Festival

The second Amakula Kampala International Film Festival is taking place in Kampala and this year's theme is "Story Lines".

By Aretha Frison
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First published: September 23, 2005

This year marked the second annual celebration of African stories portrayed on film at the Amakula Kampala International Film Festival, which showcased documentaries, cartoons, a variety of musical entertainment, and Ugandan hip-hop videos.

The film festival, scheduled to run until September 25 at many venues throughout Kampala including National Theatre, Plaza Theatre, Ndere Centre, Youth Sharing Centre in Nsambya, Bat Valley Theatre, and 20 video halls in all of the city's five divisions, according to the event's coordinators.

The festival will also introduce more regional issues to the big screen through this year's festival theme, Story Lines-a variety of old Ugandan wise tales and life's experiences being depicted through the eyes of many of the country's independent filmmakers. "The moments of life is like a story waiting to be told," according to the officials at the event.

The opening night's ceremony, held on September 15 at National Theatre, gave the festival's participants a chance to vividly express themselves through music, song and film.

About 100 guests, area dignitaries and public officials were presented with a special treat at the ceremony that evening by Moustapha Alassane, who has been called "the father of African cinema." He kicked off the festival with a cute and delightful animated feature called Bon Voyage SIM, about African dignitaries and politicians who were attending meetings and greeting each other in their usual daily engagements. Alassane's high-pitched, chipmunk-screeching characters made them seem comical, amusing, and ironically life-like.

Also, Winnie Gamisha's, The Heart of Kampala, told many tales from Kampala's Old Taxi Park. Gamisha and her film crew showed the audience how the always chaotic, but highly-organized taxi park deals with its workers and patrons from 5:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

Her film highlighted the anticipation of the departure of the taxi from the park after it fills with riders, the hawkers selling everything from headache medicine, bread, and "quality" athletic shoes for less than $10, and how one taxi driver has supported his children through university since he started working at the park in 1975.

Realistic, lively and keen, focusing on the economic importance of the Old Taxi Park to provide transportation to the Kampala city dwellers in the Japan-imported vehicles, Gamisha said the film's title symbolizes how the park "pumps the blood" of the city through the "veins" of the taxis.

During a Q&A session at the ceremony, some of the audience members wanted to know why she chose the park for the film.

"There's a lot of life out there. It's Kampala's veins. It's pumping out life," she said. "The ordinary man has a story to tell."

The Gift to the King
According to the Amakula Kampala Foundation's officials, there will be Luganda translation for all the films. Plus, there will also be a variety of workshops, seminars, discussions and lectures for the public and for the media. The officials said these programs will be hosted by local, regional and international directors and producers, and will give the participants the opportunity to meet the experts. Some of the workshops and seminars are scheduled to include storytelling, performance improvisation, film techniques, and the workshops for writers and journalists on film and cultural criticism.

Amakula, meaning in the Buganda tradition, "A gift to the king," represents the film festival's foundation gift to Uganda, event officials said.

In addition, other "gifts" to Uganda are its scheduled special programs that are designed for schools and other educational institutions in Kampala with the assistance of the Amakula Mobile Cinema, which will also appear for impromptu outdoor screenings throughout the city, according to the festival's website.

The film festival is also scheduled to show contemporary films from all over the world, and offer a broad selection of historic and contemporary African films, but with a special focus on East African cinema. Many film directors are scheduled to introduce their films and engage in discussions, just like at the opening ceremony, according to officials.

Plus, this year will inaugurate a competition for African short films that are open for submissions for short African productions to be reviewed by an international jury during the festival.

For more information on the film festival and Amakula Kampala upcoming events, visit its website at www.amakula.com.

By Aretha Frison
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First published: September 23, 2005
Aretha Frison, a native of Detroit, Michigan, and a graduate of Florida A&M University, is currently living in Kampala, Uganda as an independant media consultant for media houses and publishing companies.

She has written, edited and been featured in the Detroit Free Press, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, the East African, New Vision, The Daily Monitor, Vibe, and other trade magazines and newspapers.

Living in Uganda as a resident, she is actively involved in the Uganda writing arena, local church activities, and volunteer organizations. She can be reached at rereb@hotmail.com.