It’s been long since a film with Ugandans in it got so much hype, in fact, the last time this happened was last year.
At the time, Hollywood and it’s descendants were upon the pearl to see Mira Nair’s Cinderella story, Queen of Katwe premiere in Kampala – this time though, tables have changed; a local movie is making rounds and it doesn’t involves a foreign or international distributor and studio like Disney.
It is the premiere of Matt Bish’s latest production Bella.
The film follows a disadvantaged girl Bella whose talent to sing is easily deniable because of the way she looks. However, one day, she encounters a former prostitute who she later saves from being rapped, what happens after that is a life changing as she embarks on a dream of becoming one of the most renowned artist on the land.
Staring artiste Cinderella Sanyu alias Cindy, Simon Base Kalema, Kudzu Isaac, beauty queen turned actor Stella Nantumbwe and Matthew Nabwiso among others has got many talking since the release of the first visuals almost three months back.
Bish has some sort of reputation with the local film scene; he’s renowned for the ground breaking Battle of Souls which launched actor Pryce Joel Okuyo onto the scene and later collaborating with his brother Roger Mugisha to bring Uganda’s turbulent stories to life with State Research Bureau.
He would later work on a number of short films like A Good Catholic Girl, which to date is the film responsible for giving Uganda her sole accolade at the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards in 2013.
According to Okuyo, the director of photography for Bella, this particular film is one that has been with them since 2012; “Matt Bish first told me about Bella in 2012 and through these years, the script has been changing.”
Mostly shot in Kampala’s Soweto, the film depicts the struggles many Ugandans may be aware of, abuse and discrimination especially on those that are disadvantaged – much as it is Cindy’s first outing as an actress, many concur that she was convincing and thus can’t wait to see the film.
Talking about the film, Cindy noted that it wasn’t that hard for her to channel Bella’s character since she felt like she they have a related story; “Bella kind of tells my story though in a different way.”
Ali Byansi Mutaka, the film’s assistant director noted that he first met Cindy when she auditioned to be part of a project by a Nigerian director, though seeing her on set as the lead in Bella impressed him as she has grown both as a performer and an actress.
Talking to The Observer, Bish, director, Bella said that finding a good story especially if it’s the kind to drive people to the cinema is a very hard thing; “You must understand there are many good stories in this country but you got to have the kind that’s unique in a certain way.”
He adds that he always to work with Cindy after watching her perform; “Then I thought, hey suppose I removed all the glamour from her and all the basic elements that people enjoy in their everyday lives…. What would happen? Bella was born.”
The film premiere this Sunday at Kampala Serena Hotel, tickets go for shs50,000, shs100,000 and shs200,000. Gates will be open at 5pm.