Sunday, May 7, 2017

Film Park...

From Benchmark Films in Arua Town to Bish Films in Muyenga (Kampala) to Maisha Film Lab in Buziga to Wakaliwood, Ugawood films keep rolling out non-stop! Gone are the days when we tried extremely hard to keep track of the latest Oceanic tales, Chinese Kungfu flicks, Japanese Yakuza and Samurai adventures, Bollywood musicals to Latin American soaps, West African epics to European sagas to South African masterpieces. Today, Ugandans are also working very hard to record more of their own stories for the silverscreen en masse with talented actors such as Joel Okuyo Atiku (alias Prynce), Maureen Nankya, Isaac Kuddzu, Joan plus many others though unlisted. Nevertheless, it is universally accepted that Hollywood rules because it is the standard and Most Widely Received Promotion of this artform. So I took some timeout to reflect on some foreign films that mention something about Uganda, may GOD uphold thee! We grew up on "Operation Thunderbolt", "Raid On Entebbe", "Rise and Fall of Idi Amin" and other Amin flicks but "The Last King of Scotland" resurrected the story of the misunderstood African giant for the younger generation and even won an Oscar in 2007 for Forest Whitaker (third African-American Best Actor) who played the role of the Ugandan president. When Amin expelled the Asians in 1972, some settled in America and "Mississippi Masala (1991)" tells a gripping story of one of those families. The daughter of the lead character befriends a nigga played by Denzel Washington who later became the second African-American to win an Oscar for Best Actor (in 2002 after Sidney Poitier made history in 1964), Youngest then at 37 but still the first Black with two Oscars (the other was for Best Supporting Actor in 1990 during his earlier training days around the time he worked on the same project with Indian-born Ugandanised American Mira Nair). Uganda is indeed the Pearl of Africa; fast forward to 2016 and here comes "Queen of Katwe" that features the fifth Blackwoman to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (in 2014) though she's the first Mexican and Kenyan plus Youngest Black (at 25) to win an Oscar. Although Lupita Nyong'o descends from Kenya, she's still East African and so are the Ugandans portrayed in the movie. In fact, when the movie starts with Walt Disney's opening credits logo of a castle lit up by fireworks, you might think it is one of those translated VJ Jingo mastercuts because Bobi Wine's song with Nubian Li plays in the background instead of the usual Whiteman's music theme. Next you wait to hear stuff like: Katandika butandisi! Eyo ye Walt Disney Pictures abaleta Mickey Mouse ne Snow White, naye lero babaletera Queen of Katwe [Translated from Luganda: It is just starting! That is Walt Disney Pictures who produced Mickey Mouse and Snow White but today they bring you Queen of Katwe]. When you don't hear that, you settle in and try to enjoy the ride for what it really is, a spectacle thanks to Mira and her crew. Who said no, was that Timothy Kalyegira? Other Ugandan musicians whose songs feature in the movie include A-Pass (with three especially "Tuli Kubigere"), Afrigo Band (with two), Jose Chameleone, Radio & Weasel, Eddy Kenzo, Nsubuga Saava Karim plus Michael Kiwanuka. Halle Berry, the first Blackwoman to win an Oscar for Best Actress (though for her role in a different movie) plays a superhero named Storm in the X-Men series. Within the Marvel Universe, Storm originates from Kenya and is the wife of Black Panther (2017) who happens to be the King of Wakanda. I don't know why but something tells me Wakanda must be Uganda based on the rhyme in the names (if not then Rwanda or both together) and the shape of its map in some comics even though one of the contemporary writers of its latter day comics hints that it is inspired by West African tribes. Well Black Panther's father is named T'Chaka which sounds Zulu-ish from Down South and it throws me back to the Ngoni Tribe who migrated northwards to Tanzania because of the real King Shaka, British plus Boers according to the African History I studied in S5 but lets not forget some Kenyans like calling us Waganda, which rhymes again! Storm must have been hitched to a neighbour. If my assumptions are dead wrong, at least Ayo, one of the Black Panther's female bodyguards in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is played by a Ugandan woman. W'Kabi, Black Panther's Best Friend is played by a London-born Ugandan, oops! That character name itself sounds so Ugandan, I know why because I knew a very kind Classmate in the early 90s with a similar name, he loved Transformers pencils. Yali wakabi [Translated from Lusoga: He was kick-ass!] Uganda has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup but I wonder what our flag was doing at the Quidditch World Cup portrayed in "Harry Potter 4: The Goblet of Fire (2005)". Also in "Edge of Tomorrow (2014)", at the entrance of the building where Tom Cruise had to meet up with other soldiers in the resistance is the Ugandan flag next to a few others. Okay I know we have bigshots in the UN, Sam Kutesa, and Uganda is a member of the Security Council, AMISOM, blah blah blah, but Ugandans fighting aliens, really? Heeheehee, my childhood friends would have abused me if I told them that it's possible even as a movie only. Let me whisper to you something: There might be aliens in the Somali War; The Devil is involved in some attacks, Elvis Mbonye type of speech! That's my Minority Report from a Dreamvision before one dawn in 2017 for one of the Bomb Blasts, confirmed the news on Aljazeera around midday during waking life. Even romantic comedies mention Uganda eg "Admission" about Princeton University recruitment; forget that there is a map on the wall where you see the name, it can happen in many movies, but one of the standout characters mentions that he originated from Uganda. There is a lot more alluding to Uganda including "Casino Royale" in the 007 James Bond franchise and "Hard Target" but I'll stop here, no more spoilers! I'm not Butabika-crazy [as in azaza in Lugbara], even if naysayers say so but the future of filmmaking looks bright for UG...