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What Challenges Do Ugandan Filmmakers Face?
What Challenges Do Ugandan Filmmakers Face?
What Challenges Do Ugandan Filmmakers Face?

What Challenges Do Ugandan Filmmakers Face?

Uganda has a rich and vibrant film industry, with talented filmmakers producing high-quality content. However, like many independent filmmakers around the world, they face unique challenges that can hinder their success. In this article, we will explore some of the challenges that Ugandan filmmakers face and how they are overcoming them.

1. Limited Funding.

One of the biggest challenges for Ugandan filmmakers is limited funding. Unlike big-budget Hollywood productions, independent filmmakers often have to rely on their own resources or seek out funding from grants and investors. In Uganda, less knowledge about how to source filmmaking money from investors makes it difficult for filmmakers to secure the necessary funds to bring their visions to life.

This can result in low production values and limited resources for marketing and distribution. There is a change happening since the entry of big movie financiers like Multichoice, StarTimes, and the Uganda Communications Commission. We hope that change accelerates the learning curve for pitching for Ugandan filmmakers so that they can access other sources of filmmaking resources.

There are alternatives to pitching for resources, such as combining resources among independent filmmakers through collaborations. However, this hasn’t been a popular approach in Uganda due to most filmmakers' creative differences and sometimes rigidity in creativity.

2. Limited Access to Equipment and Technology;

Another challenge for Ugandan filmmakers is limited access to state-of-the-art modern equipment and filmmaking technology. Many filmmakers do not have access to high-quality cameras, lighting equipment, and editing software, which can impact the overall quality of their films. This can also make it difficult for them to keep up with the constantly evolving technology in the film industry.

Reasons for the limited access to modern technology range from the expensiveness of the technology to the lack of skill to use it. The latter wouldn’t have been a big issue since every technology is learned and skills are acquired; the former is usually the obstacle to access.

We have seen movies in Uganda that have tried to use current technology in the visual effects department, like the short film Nambi and the film The Lions of Buganda, which was shot mostly using green screens, among others. However, these methods still remain within affordable means of filmmaking. The best cameras and some necessary gears to create good films remain expensive and inaccessible to the Uganda filmmaking community.

3. Lack of Distribution Channels;

Once a film is completed, the next challenge for Ugandan filmmakers is finding distribution channels. With limited access to cinemas and traditional distribution methods, many filmmakers struggle to get their films seen by a wider audience. This can result in low box office numbers and limited exposure for their work.

Most movies in Uganda literally make less than $1,000, which is far below the cost of making a film anywhere in the world. It becomes extremely difficult to recoup the money these filmmakers invest in movies, given the fact that it’s even their money, as we’ve already explained above, which adds another level of difficulty to filmmaking in Uganda.

To make matters worse, even the few available distribution channels are not being utilized fully by filmmakers either because of ignorance or inability to support their movies to use those channels.

For example, there have been distribution opportunities on airlines like Qatar and Emirates, but only a few Ugandan filmmakers have had their films on either because they don’t know such opportunities exist or they don’t know how to exploit them.

There are over seven cinema halls across the country and thousands of video halls, commonly known as Bibanda, but even these have not been utilized well for common film screenings in these areas. Unlike the airline example, filmmakers know about these channels (Cinemas and Bibanda) but have not tried to use them due to issues regarding marketing and promotion of their movies (we’ll talk about that another day). So, this challenge of lack of distribution channels is somehow self-inflicted and can be solved with baby steps of utilizing the already available channels gradually until they become popular.

With the available channels not being utilized, filmmakers have turned to festivals to earn some money back. However, festival earnings are usually small, and very few festivals around the world pay money for movies winning awards. It would be unfair to finish this without acknowledging filmmakers who are doing great when it comes to distributing their content. Filmmakers like Loukman Ali have had some success on international distribution channels like Netflix. Of course, it was a big challenge, but it’s that one drop in the ocean that matters.


Despite the challenges they face, Ugandan filmmakers continue to produce compelling and thought-provoking films. With limited funding, limited access to equipment, and limited proper distribution channels, they have shown resilience and resourcefulness in pursuing their passion for filmmaking.

These are very few and part of the larger problems that we’ll keep exploring as time goes. Today, we decided to just look at those.

Let us know what you think is the biggest problem Ugandan filmmakers are facing.

Let us know in the comments.

Written by Cinema UG.