Earlier this year, Kemiyondo Coutinho’s directorial and production début film Kyenvu won Pan African Film Festival (PAFF)’s Best Nar-rative Short Film.
Much as it is a festival many Ugandans may not be aware of, PAFF according to Kemiyondo is an Oscar-qualifying showcase that winning at the do is even a bonus. Of course she promises to submit to the Oscars come October, but what is Kyenvu?
Making of Kyenvu
This is a short film written, directed and acted by Coutinho in the lead role. Having known only one person on the Uganda film scene prior to this production, she did all she could to get the best out of him.
“I remember asking him to connect me to the best cinematographer, actors, soundman, crew,” she recalls
The production values reflect the force behind it - from the cast made up of Michael Wawuyo Jr, Rehema Nanfuka, Pryce Joel Okuyo, Felix Bwanika to the crew of seasoned sound man Moses Bwayo, editor Peter Mukiibi and director of photography Isaac Ekuka among others, says a lot of Uganda’s yet -to-be discovered gems.
The film opens with its title Kyenvu, just that this time the graphics try to explain it in a way that a dictionary would - this becomes the first indication that Kyenvu or yellow as a colour will be a metaphor intended to serve more than one purpose in the movie.
Taking place in some of the most obscure places, Kyenvu is set in a taxi, a 14-sitter matatu where this brown (yellow) girl recently returned from overseas finds love. It all starts with a taxi conductor who tries to cheat her because she is not from around and the guy who tips her off that she is being cheated and even offers to pay the fare.
What happens afterwards is a cat and mouse game between the girl and the taxi stranger who is dedicated to impress her with gifts and of course, kindness.
What makes Kyenvu such a marvel is Kemiyondo’s ability to make the taxi, stage and yellow, the colour characters in the story.
The taxi and the stage was the vehicle that moved the different themes of the story - it was at the stage where men ridiculed her dressing while in the taxi, she found affection which would later become unfortunate. The scenes bring out beliefs and ideas that are true to the society like patriarchy that usually leads men to believe they have power over women’s bodies and a belief that woman are meant to be defended by man.
The deeper use of colour says things even the film may not have been able to say - addressing subtle colour segregation between Ugandans of different shades, identity and feminism.
Sadly though, the final use of the colour is after she is attacked and raped by a gang - the emotions piled in the scene of her trying to rid her yellow dress of her own blood is gripping.
But besides the acting, writing and storytelling, Kyenvu thrives in sound, an area many Ugandans altogether never get right. And it is more than ambience recording, the film is endowed with accurate scoring, soundtracks and original compositions.
Most of the songs were done by artistes that have graced her A Ka Dope sessions but the fact that each song fit the rhythm and emotions at the time was remarkable.
List of winners
The principal awards from this year’s Pan African Film festival include the following:
Best Narrative Feature: Borders (Frontières) (Burkina Faso)
Best Director—First Feature Narrative: Kalushi (South Africa)
Best Documentary Feature: Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me (US)
Best Narrative Short: Kyenvu (Yellow) (Uganda), directed by Kemiyondo Coutinho
Best Documentary Short: Mama (US),
Programmers’ Award—Narrative or Documentary Short: Lalo’s House (Haiti/US)
Programmers’ Award—Documentary: Barrow-Freedom Fighter (Barbados),
Programmers’ Award—Narrative Feature: Love Jacked (South Africa), directed by Alfons Adetuyi
PAFF Directors’ Award—Feature Documentary (TIE): King of Stage: The Woodie King Jr. Story (US), directed by Juney Smith and Maynard (US), directed by Samuel D. Pollard
PAFF Directors’ Award—Feature Narrative: The Train of Salt and Sugar (Mozambique/South Africa)
Audience Award—Documentary Short: ’63 Boycott (US), directed by Gordon Quinn
Audience Award—Documentary Feature: Sammy Davis, Jr. I’ve Gotta Be Me (US)
Audience Award—Narrative Short: For Evan’s Sake (US), directed by Kirstin Lorin
Audience Award—Narrative Feature: Muslimah’s Guide to Marriage (US)
Adapted from -www.peoplesworld.org