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Cleopatra shines through Yogera

There are some things you will notice about Yogera, the Yes! That’s Us movie produced by the same guys who brought you Divisionz in 2006.

One, Cleopatra Kyoheirwe really can act. It’s not just because she is the main star of Yogera and plays twin sisters G and Hope. You literally cannot take your eyes off Cleo when she’s on screen.

It does not matter if Bobi Wine or Buchaman or Helen Lukoma is in the same shot, Cleo burns with a searing intensity all the more remarkable because it is so understated.

Two, how did Cleopatra manage to keep her two different characters in her head and never mess them up? I want to know, and when you are watching Yogera, you will wonder too. G and Hope are so different.

G is a Kampala campus chic who wants nothing to do with the village, is ashamed of her roots. Hope carries the trusting wonder of a villager in a city with her everywhere. Hope may be deaf and mute but boy do her eyes speak for her! Her total immersed delight as she explores Kampala for the first time is infectious.

Three, have you ever seen Kampala in such colours as Donald Mugisha and company paint it in Yogera? I have never. Yogera has stunning set pieces of Kampala life that deserve to be reviewed in film making classes on their own.

Downtown Kampala at the bus park, Kampala at night, Hope a runaway from the sister she had come to find in the first place, I know this Kampala. This Kampala has never been in a Ugandan film before.
Four, if you thought Divisionz was a good film, Yogera is a much, much better.

Astonishing really when you consider that the making of Yogera, the behind the scenes drama, would make a film of its own. Yogera is a film that was not meant to be. And you know what, Ugandan film culture would have been so much poorer if it had never got made.

These are just a few of the things that instantly strike you, watching you Yogera. Unlike too many Ugandan films you can describe in a word or two, Yogera has layers upon layers of rich complexity.

Most of them stem from Cleopatra’s bravura performance. But quite a few too come from that other star of this film – HB Toxic’s Helen Lukoma, who portrays the cool campus chic who is a master at manipulation.

No, no, not this simple ‘detoothing’ manipulation but the blacker female arts of appealing to or stoking the insecurities of the people around you. The character Helen brings to life in Yogera is crying out for a movie of her own!

I can’t find a bad thing to say about Yogera? Well, not for the sake of it. But since you bring it up, for the life of me I can’t understand what the male leads in Yogera were about. Clearly the storylines of Buchaman and Bobi Wine’s characters were not properly thought through.

Yogera would have been a much stronger movie had Donald and co had the courage to concentrate on the women’s world Yogera in spots exposes. It is a woman’s movie in the best sense of the word. As in, life in Kampala is seen through their eyes and they are not reduced to telenovela foolishness.

There are many such accidental touches of genius in Yogera. More than Divisionz, this one makes any film lover pray and hope Donald will not procrastinate another four years before directing his next film.

This young man has a lot of potential, not just to shoot good things, but to create classic ones. I’ll be eagerly waiting to see if another 2010 Ugandan film can top this one.


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