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The Ugandan worth the hype

This was one of the most talked about movies last year – it premiered at a sold-out event at National theatre – yet for some reason, many Ugandans have not watched it.

According to one of the actresses, the producers are still protecting the original product from pirates and, thus, it may take even more than six months to get your own DVD copies of The Ugandan.

Since the Euro-Africa Film festival opened at Theatre La bonita last week, I have been frequenting the place in the name of catching a free African Movie like obi Emelonye’s Mirror Boy, Jann Turner’s White Wedding or that 2005 South African hit, Tsotsi; it is always a chance to escape the cliché and lack of creativity that Hollywood has become.

These African movies provide a clear alternative to the lame stories, bad scripts, and continuous gay scenes and uncalled-for cliffhangers only immersed in production trickery. Thus, when Patrick Sekyaya’s The Ugandan was listed as one of the African movies to be screened at the festival  for free, many had to, indeed, make a date with the organisers.

The movie was meant to start at 6pm, though by 5pm, the theatre lounge was full of movie lovers excited to catch one of the best productions done in Uganda by a Ugandan. The movie looks at life after the 1972 expulsion of Asians by Idi Amin; some of the Indians whose property was dished out to the locals come back to reclaim what rightfully belongs to them.

We are then introduced to Raman, an Indian survivor of the Amin regime, who is blackmailed by his Ugandan girlfriend (Becky) when he claims her ‘father’s property’.

Coincidentally, Raman’s daughter (Sonia) falls in love with Becky’s brother (Simon). Meanwhile, Becky’s other brother (Ralph) is hustling on the streets, chasing after a thug that has links to Raman and Becky, amid raging protests against Indians.

The Ugandan is one of the best locally-produced movies; its picture, lighting and sound quality can aptly compete with bigger industries such as south Africa and Nigeria. The film, however, has issues especially with the performances by most of the characters.

Former Miss Uganda Dora Mwima was partly impressive, though in a scene where she is told that the father of her unborn child was simply hired to fake interest in her, her expression remained flat – not any different from a person surprised by relatives at a birthday. The script too had problems; much of the dialogue lacked direction, making it redundant.

But even with all that, The Ugandan is still one of the best movies to come out of our dusty industry and thus deserved all the hype. Meanwhile, the Euro-Africa festival wraps up today with Joel Karekezi’s The Pardon, a film about the post-Rwanda genocide divide, as people try to come to terms with forgiveness and reconciliation.

kaggwandre@gmail.com

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