A look at Uganda’s AMVCA nominees

00:04 by Kaggwa Andrew
The Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) is upon us. Again this year, African film makers will travel to Nigeria, and one by one, the works will be put on a scale, the winner walks off with a wooden but prestigious statue.
After years of bad luck and being snubbed, this year, Uganda will, for the very first time get into the awards with three nominations; two are in the same category of Best East African Film, for Joseph Kenneth Sebagala’s House Arrest and Call 112.
A long shot nod for the Best lighting Design for Francis Lubanjuma on House Arrest and a final one for House Arrest in the Best Overall Film.
Call 112 (Best Film East)
A scene from Call 112
 
Call 112 was released slightly before the previous Uganda Film Festival (UFF) in August; it is a film about human organ trafficking aptly set in two cages.
The film follows lives of two siblings that find themselves in the hands of human organ traffickers after they are kidnapped on their way back from school.
From the naming, it’s clear that director Joseph ken Ssebagala is attempting to tell a dark story of the illicit business using a police angle – that was interesting.
Starring Farooq Mutebi as Paul, who along his sister were captured by guys that wanted to put their organs on the market, well this could have easily come off as Uganda’s most shoddy job of a film.
Poorly researched and executed that it failed to be believable, though in some way, the film finds itself a nominee in the category of Best East African Film where it will compete with Sebagala’s own House Arrest, Mapenzi, Daddy’s Wedding, Mpango Mbaya and Kitendawall.

House Arrest (Best Film East, Best Overall Film)
House Arrest promotional poster
 
Sebagala’s other film House Arrest, is too vying for the same award, the film premiered twice last year. First, it was at corporate screening at Acacia Mall during the UFF and then again at the National Theatre at the end of the year.
The film is about a woman that inherits her abusive husband’s fortune. But just when she seems to be enjoying it all, her deceased husband’s ghost haunts her that she can’t leave the walls of her own house if she wants to live.
It’s a fine production, not really over the top but just watchable; at the 2015 UFF, House Arrest won almost all the accolades they were nominated for including Best Actress, Sound Design and Director.
Much as the film boosts of a descent picture coupled with good transitions and a number of well-crafted shoots, it only stands a better chance when it comes to the Best East African Film than many other categories. Still, House Arrest remains the only East African film nominated for the converted Best Overall Film, thus there are more chances that nomination puts them ahead of their regional competition.
Yes there are nominees like Kitendawall or Daddy’s Wedding but they may all be weaker than the weak House Arrest and to make things better, the East African film bullies from Kenya are majorly missing in this year’s nominees list.
Even the highly acclaimed Kenyan blockbusters like Fundi-Mentals, Strength of a Woman and Pearl of Africa among others are surprisingly nowhere; word has it that after the 2015 event where all accolades went to Nigerian films, Kenyan film makers choose to ignore the awards thus the low submissions this time round.

Francis Lubanjuma
His probably the most famous film person in the industry circles, a jack of all trades, Lubanjuma has worked on almost 80% of the Ugandan films that were released in 2015.
For some he has been one of the sound recordist, light designing, acting as an extra but mostly he handles the clapboard/slate.
In the past, Lubanjuma has worked on Imani: The Movie, Call 112, Wako and The Superstation among others.
Lubanjuma’s biggest competition in this category comes from Being Mrs Elliot by Oluwole Olawoyin and Stanlee Ohikhuare’s Common Man.

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