Where are African films in the local cinemas?

04:22 by Kaggwa Andrew
The second edition of the annual Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) took place last week.
Uganda had enjoyed one well deserved nomination in the makeup category for Micheal Wawuyo and Felista’s Fable. The only difference is that unlike last year where we all rode on Mathew Nabwiso’s single nomination to win the Best Supporting actor accolade, this time round we lost to Kenya’s Nairobi Half-life.
As you may already know, the best picture award went out to Ghanaian film The Contract which was the most nominated movie of the night, followed by Nigeria’s Living Funeral, a sensitive movie about a girl losing her life to cancer, Tanzanian Siri Ya Mtungi and the commendable Nigerian fiction, Last Flight to Abuja.
Like last year, I was in my seat being mesmerized by the serious strides Nigerian and African cinema has taken, from predictable annoying storylines like Aki and Popo, Beyoncé and Ciara, or Could this be Love? To better choreographed, directed pictures like The Square, Mirror boy, White Wedding and Ije: The journey among others.
Very improved African movies I had no idea that indeed existed; apparently, even when Africa Magic is expected to showcase the richness of African Cinema, they’ve only paid attention to Nigerian and Ghanaian movies, even then, they still show the poorly shot and scripted ones.
The beauty of cinematography in the likes of Living Funeral or Last Flight to Abuja doesn’t get to our screens. But it’s not just the Nigerian movies, even the various nominees and winners in both award shows have been movies at least many Ugandans have not seen.
According to an official at Multichoice Uganda, it’s not possible for DSTV channels to screen a new movie before it makes rounds at the various Cinema locations.
“If Africa gets to watch your film for free, you won’t be able to make money out of it,” he says.
However, even when the movies get time to make rounds in the cinema, they never make it to the Ugandan ones.
And its not just now, since time immemorial, Ugandan Cinemas have always had time for the latest in Hollywood, Bollywood, Chinese or Japanese but no love for the African rising industry.
An industry that has had commendable Academy nominated pictures like Totsi, Yesterday, Jerusalema, Life above all and the Cannes Film festival’s favorite, Nairobi Half Life.
It looks so okay to feed us on a poorly sought after sequels of Grown Ups, Iron Man 3 or the wrongly scripted 2012 and After Earth whose main attraction is trickery and effects - but not an African movie.
According to Film Classification Officer, Media Council, Polly Kamukama, most African movies regardless of how good they are are not commercially viable; they are not the type that would draw crowds into the Cinema.
“It’s even worse when it comes to Uganda where the Cinema-going culture is just picking, it’s a delicate audience that needs to be lured with mega budget Hollywood products that have had enough publicity,” he says.
Though outside the power of Hollywood, Kamukama notes that African movies are barely marketed outside their home countries, which leaves them out of favor.
However, he also notes that Ugandans too still bare a negative perception towards African films.
“They think that all African films are bad - no one is willing to take a risk and show a real African story to African audiences.”
Over to you.

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