Uganda film industry on a progressive journey

Thursday July 12 2018

Left to right: Queen of Katwe actors Madina

Left to right: Queen of Katwe actors Madina Nalwanga, Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo in one of the movie scenes. Courtesy photo 

By Gerald Sserunjogi

The film industry in Uganda was discovered as early as 1893 when its first movie was produced. Like any industry that is still growing, the industry has been plagued by numerous challenges, including funding, lack of passionate people.
Stage plays that excited the market quickly lost direction because of poorly unidentified leadership, who couldn’t differentiate film from other bandal of rights. Fast forward to the 1960s and film begun to pick up with the Kayayu Film Players and thereafter in the 1980s, with the Obwavu Musolo by Kyeswa and mid 1980s with the That’s Life Mwatu and Bibaawo series.
By 2000, a few movies branded the film industry market following the mirth of Nigerian movies that started to show on the air waves of Uganda. The passion of film naturally drove the film industry gearing towards great opportunity after the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) stepping in to streamline it as key regulators in 2013.
The main challenge of the film industry has been the Film Legal Framework to govern the industry and its activities. The increasing TV stations that lacked sense of guidance and direction to promote local content, resorted to promoting piracy by broadcasting pirated foreign content.
In addition to that, the nonperformance of copy right body, Collective Management of Organisations (CMO) licensed by Uganda Registrations Services Bureau (URSB), has now also failed the industry.
The copyright policy for many years under the Registrar, is compromising on the supervision of the continuous illegal distributors and exhibitors in the country engaging themselves in promotion of theft for intellectual property, pornography and homosexuality by selling unclassified movies, which role the Media Council has failed to enforce.
There has been a rapid growth in quality and quantity of film production each year ever since the Uganda Film Festival was started up by UCC and Uganda Film Producer’s Association in 2013. Unfortunately, a bigger section of the population has not had a chance to watch our films due to lack of proper distribution structures. So, MultiChoice is giving local filmmakers a chance to attend master classes with international experts, is a golden opportunity for the Uganda film industry.
The Uganda Film Industry just exists naturally, but not legally. It lacks clear film laws, rules, guidelines, and policy to strengthen its existence.
An umbrella body, Uganda Film Council, has designed and developed the draft of the National Films Policy, which was submitted to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development as well as the Ministry of ICT and consultations on the policy are underway countrywide.
The industry lacks a one-stop centre that leads to the confusion of authority and therefore a delay in the production processes, making it expensive for both local and foreign producers to manage.
At a time when the film industry umbrella body is pushing for the film legal framework, MultiChoice is offering a once in a lifetime opportunity to potential and passionate filmmakers in what is dubbed at MultiChoice Talent Factory.
This is an avenue of equipping filmmakers with clear professional skills.
Three training academy centres have been established all over Africa and have invited film practitioners and stakeholders to join the academies and learn more skills set required to succeed in the industry.
In conclusion, the Uganda Film Industry, has been marked as one of the most creative and promising industries in Africa due to its rich and compelling story telling.
Throughout the world, the film industry provides vast employment opportunities. In the next five years, we expect to have a population of more than three million youth in the industry as well as gazetted film shooting districts and centres of excellence across the country to provide cheap production services.

Mr Sserunjogi is the president of Uganda Producers