Amakula relishes memories with first drive in cinema in years

09:57 by Kaggwa Andrew

You can’t forget the first time you were at the cinema. Well maybe you can forget the clothes you were putting on but definitely not the film you watched.
But I guess that only works for people that looked at cinema going as some kind of privilege, the ones that elevated you from your ordinary peers at school.
Then, there were no pirates in town thus, the only way you could have watched Titanic, Good Will Hunting or Men In Black only weeks after their official release was at the then William Street based Cineplex Cinema.
My first time was when Rush Hour, the first one from the series was making waves; I barely knew I was even watching a blockbuster considering the fact that the cinema hall was virtually empty.
On Wednesday, at the Uganda Museum, Amakula International Film Festival created yet another cinematic memory for many young film lovers with the very first drive in showcase Uganda has seen in many years.
It’s said that in the 1960s, the Cinema culture was at its peak and drive ins were some sort of the ish – but thanks to our scratched past, none of these cultures even still exist. The years of turmoil before 1986 have since ensured that cinemas are almost in-existent and the few that were opened way later after stability are now struggling to attract a paltry one hundred audience.
Thus, getting into the Bala Bala Sese, the film that opened Amakula, the festival was faced with more than a problem, getting people come back to the cinemas and more so the already dead drive ins and getting them sit through 102 minutes of a locally produced film.
But it wasn’t just the drive in that was crazy, for people without cars, the same movie was screening at the museum hall but unlike the traditional seats and screen kind of setting, they opted for mats and only a few seats.
The festival was making a comeback after going into a hiatus for almost four years, it’s been said that much of the show woes came from a fact that they lacked funds and thus couldn’t carry on for the tenth edition, and it was in the new hands of Bayimba Foundation, Goethe Zentrum and Kampala Film School.
In fact, much as this was the tenth edition of the festival, Bayimba Foundation’s Faisal Kiwewa and the curator of this Amakula noted that this was basically their first and they had a lot to learn.
To make sure the festival can sustain itself, they had to make people pay as opposed to the previous editions where it was absolutely free. 
Alice Smits, the first director and curator of the festival noted that handing over the festival to Bayimba Foundation has been a process that started in 2013. She says that they believe the festival is in the right hands considering the fact that the foundation already runs a unique multidisciplinary showcase.
This year, Amakula was putting their emphasis on distribution and thus two international distribution companies DIFFA (Distribution Internationale de Films et Fictions d'Afrique) and Aya based in France and United Kingdom respectively.
But it was the drive in that many people were very interested in, you could see that many were thrilled by the idea of sitting in their cars with headsets whose sound they could control to levels that suited them.
Adnad Senkumba’s prowess is best appreciated while watching this film with the sound projected in HD via the headsets, you could experience each and every detail of the sound including the little ants that helped create an ideal feel of a night in a village.
It could have been a drive in designed for people with cars, but the crowd at the festival opening wanted none of that, in fact, many of the people that had to sit in the main hall were seen coming with their mats to watch from the Museum gardens.
Some sat on their friends car bonnets and enjoyed both Bala Bala Sese and the cool breeze that was availed by the good weather of the day.
Even the fact that one would easily remove the headsets and receive a call without inconveniencing the people around was just magnificent.
Flora Aduk, an arts editor with the Daily Monitor noted that such drive ins reminded her of those old movies where people used to go to drive ins during outings – she said that she enjoyed watching the film with the breeze hitting her face.
Others liked a fact that they could walk about to the toilet but could still follow the audio part of the film.
Bala Bala Sese was massively appreciated by the audience at the Amakula tenth edition debut and they commended Bashir Lukyamuzi the director and Usama Mukwaya for telling a story that many Ugandans can easily relate and emmerse in.
The festival was graced by Hollywood actor and film maker Ntare Mbaho Mwine and Queen of Katwe director Mira Nair among others.

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