Felista’s Fable emerged the biggest winner at the second annual Uganda Film festival (UFF) awards gala held at the Kampala Serena hotel last Friday.
The film directed by Dilman Dila won four awards: best screenplay, feature film, best actor (Isaac Kadzu) and the overall film of the year. The gala was a climax of a week of activities, which included workshops, film fora and screenings at the National theatre, Makerere’s Cinemax 5D, Acacia mall’s Century cinema and Naalya’s Magic cinema.
The festival, however, raised eyebrows when it emerged that it costs Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) an alleged whopping Shs 4 billion every year.
Filmmakers were not impressed with this claim. Prince Joel Nakibinge, the director of Behind The Walls, and Robert Nkambo, the director of Spying On Suzana, say nothing has changed ever since the festival started last year.
“Filmmakers still struggle to get their products on the market, and TV content is not regulated,” Nakibinge said. Hussein Omar, the director of The Counsellor said the festival is just a one-off.
“When it is done, they [UCC] forget all about film,” he said.
Some filmmakers were also worried that films were screened in only plush cinemas, which are not easily accessible by the general public. In her keynote address, Nigerian actress Patience Ozokwor defended UCC, noting that the fact that government came out to start a festival is already a good start for the industry since many other countries have not had that chance.
She also advised UCC to open up a film village and also encourage students to train in filmmaking. Femi Odugbemi, an award-winning filmmaker who headed the judges’ panel, appreciated all the people that submitted films, calling it a brave move.
He, however, noted that the sound quality of many of the submitted movies was below par, compared to the pictures and cinematography, which he highly commended.
“The movies selected are generally strong and we recommend they screen at international festivals,” he said.
There were, however, some surprising winners. The biggest of them all was Gilbert Kafuuma’s The 7-11, which beat Vince Musisi’s Nyugunya in the best student film category. The other was Alex Musisi’s The Vow emerging as the best animation film over Arms Of Clay. It was also a surprise that The Reform and Spying On Suzana lost all the awards to fellow nominees.
Other winners included 12-year-old Rachel Nduhukire, whose character in I Found My Way earned her the special mention award. The Ebonies JW Ssembajwe won the Lifetime achievement award amidst protests. Tanzanian film Zamora took the best sound and cinematography.
This year, there were no make-up and costume categories. Then, for some reasons, the best supporting actor and actress categories were still missing. This year’s awards were more competitive and only Ozokwor could put it better: “Uganda has content and stories that can’t be exhausted.”