The pearl International Film Festival that took place at the National Theatre last week climaxed on Friday with an award show.
Mostly known as one of the oldest local film festival, it has in the past been marred in controversies of film makers arguing that the whole festival was becoming a big tokenism saga where people were not winning because they earned it but because they were either friends or contributors to the festival in some way.
This started the process to rebrand the festival this year which included a professional committee to run the event this year as well as creating a panel to select, nominate as well as chose winners for the award gala.
For the seventh edition, the chosen festival director Ronnie Nkambo did a superb job as far as giving the show a new face like having well scheduled film screenings throughout the week, updating their public about synopsizes of programmed films and information on the jury and workshops.
But of course, they still had issues on the D-day as they seemed unprepared; for instance, they had to take a roast from veteran actress Joanita Bewulira, a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement and Best Actress awards who noted that she can’t believe she was a nominee but never received a formal invitation for the event.
And of course, very many times you had ushers moving up and down seemingly not knowing what they were supposed to be doing at what time – but it was still a night film makers looked beyond the short comings and celebrated their art.
For instance, one of the winners of the night, Slyvia Bamusiime for her documentary Omweso noted that she feels like the festival carries more weight than many others that exist because besides having the vision for the industry, they love what they are doing.
“I was here for the screening on one of the days and it was nice that people were actually in the auditorium watching,” she says, which is of course a contrast of the Uganda Film Festival where films are mostly screened for cinema ushers and cleaners.
The biggest winners of the night was Rain, a film by David Mugerwa that took home the overall Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Production Design and Supporting Actress; a film about a girl that leaves the village for the city with a dream of making it in the music industry only for her life to take a different turn.
With a cast that includes Eleanor and Mathew Nabwiso, Bewulira, Fan Factory’s Richard Twangye, Phillip Luswata and Michael Wawuyo Jr among others, Rain is one of the few Ugandans with a tight screenplay writing style that left no character undefined or a problem not resolved.
“It’s key for a screenplay wright to create scenarios and later manage to resolve all of them as the film ends,” noted Polly Kamukama, one of the jury members for the festival.
Faithful by Richard Nondo too enjoyed some success at the award show picking up Best Special Effect and Make Up, Best Actor and Actress for Felix Bwanika and Aganza Sanyu Kisaka respectively.
Other winners included Volongoto Mu Mukwano, Love Faces, The Last Breath and Omweso which took home the Best Documentary film accolade.