Learn and adapt to new challenges

Leonard Amanya a passionate film maker.

What you need to know:

  • Leonard Amanya, a passionate and dedicated filmmaker deeply involved in the world of cinema, Amanya has a diverse background in film curation, production, and regulation.

Leonard Amanya, a passionate and dedicated filmmaker deeply involved in the world of cinema, Amanya has a diverse background in film curation, production, and regulation.

Amanya holds a degree and Master’s degree in Mass Communication with research on the ‘Role of Television’ in the promotion of Ugandan cinema in addition to training in filmmaking and 3D animation. His education has provided him with a solid foundation for his role as the officer film, video & cinematography affairs at Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). He had a sit-down with Monitor's Edgar R. Batte about his work

What does your selection as a member of the Emmy Awards mean to you? 

Being selected as a member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (International Emmy Awards), which oversees the Emmy Awards, is a tremendous honour. It signifies recognition from esteemed film peers and provides an opportunity to contribute to shaping the future of television programming on a global scale.
To what do you attribute this recognition?

Years of hard work, dedication, a relentless pursuit of excellence and prayer, which has helped me in consistently pushing boundaries, fostering innovation and maintaining high standards. I have been fortunate to earn the respect of colleagues and peers both locally and internationally.

I also attribute this to my mentors Femi Odugbemi, one of Africa’s and Nigeria’s most celebrated film icons, Ugandan professor for film and literature at Makerere University, Sister Dominic Dipio, Nigerian filmmaker and founder of Silicon Valley African Film Festival in California, Chike Nwoffiah.The list is long. 

What is your career mantra?

Continually strive for excellence, embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and never losing sight of the impact my work can have.
When and how did you join the film industry?

While pursuing my first degree in Mass Communication at Makerere University and later when I did a short film training with Maisha Film Lab and Kampala Film School. I entered the film industry with a passion for storytelling and a desire to contribute to Uganda’s cultural landscape.

Leonard Amanya receives an award for his film, Crystal – Countless Misfortune   from Nigerian filmmaker Chike Nffowia.

In high school, I always wanted to participate in Music, Dance and Drama competitions but I was never selected but I never gave up the dream. When I joined university, I decided I was going for it, so I took on  various roles, from film curation to production, eventually leading me to positions of influence within the film industry.
What are some of the major highlights in your career?

Serving as a juror at acclaimed international film festivals, including Chief Juror at the Zambia International Film Festival, the AMVCAs in Nigeria, the Zanzibar International Film Festival, Coal City International Film Festival, Durban International Film Festiva in South Africa, Benchmarking & Training with Kenya Film Classification Board, Kenya Film Commission, and Nigerian Film & Video Censorship Board.

I have also produced and directed my movie, Crystal, which has won more than 18 international awards and more than 30 nominations and recognitions and recently being selected as a member of prestigious industry organisations such as the Emmy.
What does your job at Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) entail?

Curating films for the Uganda Film Festival, overseeing communication strategies, ensuring film industry compliance and standards as an officer for Film & Cinematography Affairs at UCC and contributing to the growth of the industry through various projects and initiatives such as capacity building, content development support programmes, regional film competitions among other activities. 
How did you get to where you are?

A combination of hard work, networking, perseverance and a genuine passion for the film industry.  I also seized opportunities, built relationships, and continuously learn and adapt to new challenges.
What are the key components that make a film unique? 

Storytelling, visual style, performances, music and sound design, themes and messages, cultural and social context, direction and the filmmaker’s vision and emotional impact. Films that produce strong emotional responses, whether through laughter, tears or replication are often more memorable.
What is your favourite Ugandan film and why?

Crystal – Countless Misfortune, which I had the privilege of producing and directing. It holds a special place in my heart because it showcases the talent and creativity of Ugandan filmmakers while addressing important social issues.
With your career experience as a juror on the continent, what are the wins and loopholes?

As a juror, I have witnessed the incredible diversity and talent present in African cinema. As a juror, I have reviewed a lot of good films from Uganda and Africa at large and the competition is not for the faint-hearted.

However, there are still challenges such as limited funding, infrastructure and distribution networks that can hinder the industry’s growth.

Nevertheless, there are numerous opportunities for collaboration and innovation to overcome these obstacles and elevate the Ugandan and African cinema on the global stage.
What keeps you awake at this point in your career?

I am constantly driven by a desire to push boundaries, inspire others and make a meaningful impact on the film industry. The ever-changing landscape of cinema presents both challenges and opportunities that keep me motivated to strive for excellence.
What is on your wish list?

To continue producing compelling films that resonate with audiences around the world, contribute to the growth and development of the film industry in Uganda and beyond and inspire the next generation of filmmakers to pursue their dreams with passion and dedication but above all, that the mainstream government prioritises investing in the creative industries because we have many young people who need jobs and this sector employs all other industries from doctors to farmers.