Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director, Eng Irene Kaggwa has said Uganda’s film industry has transformed so significantly that the country is no longer known abroad for Idi Amin’s horrors but film.
Kaggwa said when Ugandans introduce themselves in the diaspora, they are no longer reminded by Amin.
“They (foreigners) are now saying Uganda, and they are actually talking about names in the film industry,” said Kaggwa, adding, “Our products are now seen all over the world; that is how powerful we have grown.”
Kaggwa spoke during the 10th anniversary of the Uganda Film Festival in Nakawa, Kampala this weekend.
“The Uganda Film Festival” initiative was established in 2013 to promote the local film industry both locally and internationally, and to bring all the industry stakeholders together in a more focused and structured environment.
The festival is aimed at creating a lucrative industry economically and socially to preserve Uganda’s national values through film as is the case with other countries such as Nigeria and the United States.
UCC has been awarding grants, trainings and scholarships to the UFF winners for the past ten years.
Kaggwa the awards committee received over 3,000 entries for the awards which was testimony that the hard work put in by stakeholders in the film industry was beginning to bear fruit.
The global movie and video production business is expected to generate $27.9 billion in revenue in 2023.
Award for Best Post Production at the @UgandaFilm Festival goes to THE PASSENGER..#UFF2023#UFF10#BuildingUgFilmIndu@DStvUganda @Airtel_Ug @mtnug @ubctvuganda @nbstv @Citibank @afromobileug @TourismBoardUg pic.twitter.com/tNgQagWA3Y
— UCC (@UCC_Official) June 2, 2023
Femi Odugbemi, a Nigerian writer, filmmaker and producer who has been Head Judge of the Uganda Film Festival (UFF) on three occasions, said the world had seen Ugandan films nominated at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards and other international awards.
“And of course now you also have the cable broadcasters and international streaming platforms paying attention to stories, films and TV series out of Uganda, so we can say we are living in the golden age of opportunity and growth for Uganda’s storytellers and filmmakers,” he observed.
“And for me that is very fulfilling because it means the work of the UCC and its mission in creating and sustaining the Uganda Film Festival in the last 10 years has been successful and rewarding,” he added.
Kaggwa said the movie industry continues to create jobs for the young and old.
“This is indeed an Industry that has great opportunity to create employment for Uganda especially for the young people. Majority of our population is a youthful population. So we need jobs and the government can’t absorb all of them (young people,” said Kaggwa.
.The first daughters of the President are attending the 10th Edition of the Uganda Film Festival Awards Gala Night 2023 in Nakawa. The Chief Guest of the event is Rt. Hon. @Thomas_Tayebwa.
#ChimpReportsNews #UFF10 #UFF2023 @Nyinancweende #UgandaFilmFestivalAt10 pic.twitter.com/thYvsVLHc4
— Nyamate (@JBNyamate) June 2, 2023
Content continues to be an economic driver of the emerging creative economy.
Storytelling is the new gold and Uganda’s rich heritage, culture and beautiful locations will make it emerge as an international attraction for filmmaking.
Kaggwa said Ugandan television can no longer claim to be lacking local content.
The law requires broadcasters to run 70% of local content on their stations.
Deputy Speaker of parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, who was the chief guest at the film festival, said “It is very clear that the film industry in Uganda has a very huge potential if supported.”
He added: “Today, you can stream a movie at a very cheaper price. I pray that we continue to bring down all these costs to enable very many Ugandans to watch local content. It has the power to change the narrative of our society.”
Tayebwa also promised to help the industry to fight piracy so that local content producers can effectively benefit from their sweat.
“ Parliament will expeditiously process the law once tabled by the executive,” said Tayebwa.
Guest of Honor @Thomas_Tayebwa~ “Previously, the local channels heavily depended on foreign programming but the new trend among broadcasters today is to show local content, while the viewers’ appetite 4 watching local content has also been whetted.” #UFF2023#UFF10 pic.twitter.com/TVtheVFYgg
— UCC (@UCC_Official) June 2, 2023
Experts say the film industry here must intensify training and capacity building particularly in specialised skill positions like production design, cinematography, sound, animation and colour grade.
Government and financial institutions must also create bespoke financing packages that support the film industry and create policies that promote Uganda Internationally to attract projects to Uganda.
These can include tax exemptions, moratoriums on lending, import duty waivers on equipment resources, co-production agreements with other film-friendly countries to expand access to audiences etc and of course investment in technology access points to allow films reach audiences virtually.
Streaming is the most viable distribution channel for African filmmakers but it needs cheaper data and faster speeds.
At the event, filmmakers and artists received cash prizes and grants to recognise and support their work.
Mukisa took the Best Feature Film; Mariam Ndagire took home the Lifetime Achievement Award; while Tracy Kababito emerged the Best Lead Actress in Feature Film.
Henry Nathan Katongole was awarded for Best Lead Actor in Feature Film
The ‘Passenger’ film was recognised for having the Best Sound and Best Post production.
Additionally, the Tale of our Times film took home the award for Best Costume Designer while Kitara Chronicles was recognised for Best Makeup.
Diana Nabatanzi got the award for Best Actress in a TV Drama while Amon Nuwamanya took home the award for Best Actor in a TV drama.
‘Akampene’ took the award for Best Documentary while Lost grabbed the award for the Best Animation Film.
Agramon scooped the Best Short Film Award while the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Feature Film was taken by Musa Mwamba.
Silent Scream scooped the Best Student Film at the Uganda Film Festival.