Ugandan filmmakers are being nominated for various international awards and showcasing their craft at different international film festivals.
The local film industry is growing exponentially, given the kind of exposure stakeholders are getting. With the growing technology, the picture quality of local films has become better over the years.
Ugandan filmmakers are being nominated for various international awards and showcasing their craft at different international film festivals. However, a few challenges linger such as poor storytelling and telling our own stories in our own indigenous languages.
It was one of the most discussed topics at a recent MultiChoice Talent Factory workshop held at MultiChoice Uganda head offices in Kololo, Kampala. Ugandan filmmakers were advised to leverage the power of indigenous languages to grow the country's film industry.
Celebrated Kenyan film producer Appie Matere, told a group of Ugandan filmmakers that it is through native languages that they can connect with the audience. She said language is a huge key in film because it allows the viewers to relate with the continent.
"It is time we have content that rhymes with our lives. Viewers want to see themselves in the content. We are not caricaturing our lives and laughing at ourselves," Matere told 15 film producers from around Kampala. Matere based her advice on the broadcasters that use local languages.
"Let us look at TVs whose content is in Kishwali or Luganda. The statistics will show you the reality. They are leading," she argued. She said one of the reasons the East African film industry is lagging behind the rest is the tendency to copy movies from Hollywood and other big industries.
"We forget that our audience is so exposed and that is why they easily reject the content," Matere observed. She said the region and the African continent as a whole has so many untold stories that can be exploited. She argued that it is better we tell the stories ourselves because we understand them more than the rest of the world.
The workshop also focused on the nitty-gritty of pre and post production. It discussed production costs and profits; what sells and does not as well as working with broadcaster and cinemas. Matere, who facilitated the workshop, said these topics are important because they allow the filmmaker avoid losses.
On language, one of the participants, Ronnie Nkalubo, on the sidelines, said: "The language bit is tricky. When we talk about local languages, people advocate for mostly Luganda, but it is not a national thought. Uganda, unlike other countries, has various ethnic groups, tribes and languages which make it tricky to choose a language that unifies all.
That is why we opt for English because it is the only national language." Aaron Zziwa, a film director, thinks it boils down to who you are targeting as a filmmaker. It also depends on what you want to achieve or the objectives of the person buying the content.
Eleanor Nabwiso, a film director, believes if one wants to target a large audience in Uganda, it is better to use a local language. "And with the new Oscars slot for local languages, it is chance to beat the odds and spread far and wide," she said.
Last year, Uganda got eligibility of nomination in The Oscars, arguably the world's most prestigious award held in the US. The academy that organises the awards approved a selection committee for Uganda in the category of best International Feature Film, which focuses on films made in a language that is not English.
Nabwiso adds: "It is important that we embrace our cultures, and language is a major facet of culture that would mean we are promoting our cultures both locally an internationally, other than trying to be what we are not."