Others' Voices: 3rd Amakula Kampala International Film Festival
3rd Amakula Kampala International Film Festival.

Others' Voices: 3rd Amakula Kampala International Film Festival

"Advancing the scope of African Cinema across the continent.."

By Gideon Munaabi
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First published: May 15, 2006

Last week many people thronged Uganda's performances center-the National Theater. At the entrance were men and women of all breeds, black and white, young and old. The walls of the front side of the National Theatre, as well as notice boards, were covered with posters containing two heads of people facing each other as though they are bulls engrossed in a fight. Embedded in each head are many small heads and the words reading "Others' Voices", running across the heads.

3rd Amakula Kampala International Film Festival
3rd Amakula Kampala International Film Festival
Others' Voices: 3rd Amakula Kampala International Film Festival.

The theater was packed to almost full capacity as revelers are having their eyes glued to the wide screen. There was the occasional clapping of hands and whistling in the dark theater where you needed a torch if you were to record a title of the film in your notebook.

On the other side of the theater (the greenroom), VJs were exhibiting their movies-translation skills under the guardianship of master VJs, Price Joe Nakibinge and Jingo Tabula. Here, a VJ picked from over 20 VJs present, selects a movie from the available section ranging from action, comedy and romantic movies, and interprets the words in the movie, as well as the message, as the movie plays.

This is the 3rd Edition of the Amakula Kampala International Film Festival now taking place at the National Theater and Plaza Theater as well as 10 video halls in Kampala. The Film festival under the theme "Others' Voices" that opened the doors to film lovers and prospective film directors, started on May 4 and ended on Sunday May 14 after showing over 100 films in ten days. The films are from all over the world including the African the leaders Nigeria, the United States of America, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Angola, United Kingdom, Brazil, France, The Netherlands, Canada, Cambodia, Mexico, Syria, Serbia, Japan, Iran, Switzerland, Jamaica, Sweden, Thailand, Italy, Rwanda, Guinea and Germany.

For someone who followed the festival, telling them that Africa is far away from the Hollywood in terms of movie production would be like convincing a Karimajong that there is an economic activity better than cattle rearing. Indeed, a reveler who watched the Kenyan Focus III on Tuesday May 9th from 6:30 pm to 7:45 pm, left saying that Africa has the chance to rule the movie industry because of its diverse cultures. This was the third time for Kenya to showcase their talent under Kenyan Focus III with four films on this menu.

First was the 12 minutes Jobseeker film by Vinccho Nchogu that portrays the reality of the job market in East Africa. A fresh university graduate is looking for a job. She is told that the two ways to get the job are either to get experience or network. Two questions bother her: Where is the institution where they teach experience? How can she get a job from networking since the only network she has is the jobseekers' network? As it ended, many people could be overheard saying that it was the best film of all times. That was until they saw Potea.

Potea or "get lost", a film directed by Kenya's Zippy Kimundu, made the 15 minutes of screening look like 5 minutes. The film with a mixture of English, Luganda and Kinyarwanda is about the struggle to integrate culture and modernity. A Rwandan rural girl gets lost on an island (possibly in Lake Victoria) full of strangers; white men and women and a Muganda boy. Each spoke their language but they tried to understand one another though sign language. The Rwandan girl 'got lost' in the forest grazing what turned out to be the paintings of Rwandan/Ankole long horned cattle.

National Theatre hosting the Amakula Film Festival
National Theatre hosting the Amakula Film Festival.

Alice Smits, the overall festival director says that this time round, the Film festival is about showing how one can make film images speak and sing as well as to develop the process of sound and concretizing the notion of directing.

"The first Amakula Kampala festival took as its theme From Life, focusing on that moment of cinema and the first inclination when one has a possession of a camera, to document the world around oneself," says Smits.

"The theme of the Second Amakula Festival 2005 was Story Lines, reflecting on the second stage of cinema, the realization that film can create illusions and we can use it to tell stories, as well as creating the link with the strong storytelling tradition in Africa," she adds.

Smits says that by arriving at the third edition under the theme, Others' Voices, they are looking at the third chapter of cinema, which brings out unique personal voices coming from various cultures in Africa to the production of films.

"Starting from Ousmane Sembene's first short film from 1963, we have gathered a great chronology of classic African cinema that confronts this theme (others' voices) in myriad ways while advancing the scope of African Cinema across the continent," she says. The festival director says that this year's festival details the determination to make film images speak and sing; developing the process of sound and concretizing the notion of directing.

Ousmane Sembene
Ousmane Sembene: In the 1960s Ousmane Sembne of Senegal emerged as one of Africa's leading writers and filmmakers.

The film festival is bringing distinguished film director like Tunde Kelani from Nigeria, Rakesh Sharma, the bold and adventurous filmmaker from India, Uganda's mater of voice, Zadok Adolu-Otojoka, Tsepiso Sello from Sithengi film festival of South Africa and Zimmerman from Women Make Movies, USA.

Tunde Kelani
Tunde Kelani: After many years in the Nigeria Film industry as a cinematographer, he now manages Mainframe Film & Television Productions, an outfit formed to document Nigeria's rich culture. Tunde Kelani has worked on most feature films produced in the country in his capacity as a cinematographer.

Throughout the festival the public was invited to view art exhibitions from artists including Ritah Nabuyungo Edopu and Daudi Karungi.

Daudi Karungi
Daudi Karungi

Ritah Nabuyungo Edopu
Ritah Nabuyungo Edopu.

Whether in the video halls (Bibanda) or in places like the National Theater, the enthusiasm in this year's festival speaks volumes to the future of the film industry in Africa and particularly in Uganda especially having come at the time when the first ever Nigerian-Uganda movie has just been unveiled in the country.

This time one may say that the festival has rocked Kampala City, but nobody can tell what the next festival will come with, especially after the awakening of many intending film actors and directors by this and previous film festivals.

By Gideon Munaabi
more from author >>
First published: May 15, 2006
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Gideon Munaabi is a journalist and public relations practitioner with Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. He has been and continues writing widely for different publication locally and internationally. He is a founding member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd and is currently the chairman of the organisation.