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Thousands of filmmakers turn up for the 11th Uganda Film Festival.
Thousands of filmmakers turn up for the 11th Uganda Film Festival.
Thousands of filmmakers turn up for the 11th Uganda Film Festival.

After over a decade of celebrating and supporting the Ugandan film industry, the Uganda Film Festival (UFF) returned with its 11th edition on June 7, 2024, under the theme "Local Stories, Global Impact." This year's festival not only celebrated the richness of Ugandan cinema but also focused on its growing influence on the global stage.

But before we dive into the nitty-gritty of it all, perhaps it is prudent that we get to know more about what the Uganda Film Festival is all about and what it seeks to do in the nation's Industry.

The Uganda Film Festival, established in 2013, has a mission to promote the growth of the local film industry by showcasing Ugandan films and providing a platform for filmmakers to network and gain international recognition. Over the years, the festival has evolved into a cornerstone event for both established filmmakers and emerging talents from all the regions of the nation. 

The festival prides itself in its inclusivity, even highlighting categories such as student films, animation, and viewer’s choice. It has been instrumental in encouraging the production of high-quality content and promoting Uganda's rich cultural heritage worldwide. This year's festival saw filmmakers, industry stakeholders, and all sorts of dignitaries grace the red carpet with glamor and style. Among the notable attendees was the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, who had the honor of presenting the Best Feature Film award to "Makula." as well as the Minister of ICT, Chris Baryomunsi, Minister of Information and Communications Technology. 

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and UFF hosted the annual celebration of cinema, recognizing outstanding achievements across both technical and acting categories. This year marked a record-breaking surge in submissions, with over 307 Ugandan films being submitted via Film Freeway in hopes of securing a nomination and perhaps even, a victory. The fierce competition resulted in less than a quarter of those submitted receiving nominations, highlighting the festival's commitment to excellence. 

A significant highlight of the 2024 UFF was the increased presence of films made in indigenous languages, reflecting Uganda's rich cultural diversity in relation to the theme of “Local Stories, Global Impact.” This year's festival honored approximately 50 films spread across 25 categories. 

Leading the nominations was "Makula," which received 12 nominations across various categories, including Best Actress for Nisha Kalema. The film delves into the harrowing world of human and organ trafficking, captivating audiences with its intense narrative.

Other strong contenders included "Omukululo," which received ten nominations. This film explores the chaos that unfolds when secrets are kept hidden. Notable mentions also go to Kevin Jones Nabukenya's "Soccer Heart," which beautifully depicts the intersection of sports and personal struggles, and Jerry Ssesanga's "Lions of Buganda," a powerful narrative that delves into historical themes from the African perspective.

The competitive spirit of the festival was strong, with films like Eleanor Nabwiso's "Christmas Together," Nisha Kalema's "Makula," and Ibrahim Hammis Mayanja's "Omukululo" dominating categories in acting, screenplay, and technical excellence. This year's edition of UFF not only celebrated the creative prowess of Ugandan filmmakers but also underscored the festival's ongoing commitment to elevating local stories to a global platform.

A notable trend at this year’s festival was the spotlight on up-and-coming talents. The UFF has always been a nurturing ground for new filmmakers, and 2024 was no exception. The festival provided a platform for fresh voices to be heard, with many young directors and actors receiving accolades for their innovative and thought-provoking work. This focus on new talent ensures that the future of Ugandan cinema remains bright and full of potential.

In addition to film screenings and award presentations, the UFF also featured a series of panels and workshops aimed at fostering dialogue and skill development among filmmakers. These sessions covered a wide range of topics, from screenwriting and directing to the use of new technologies in film production. Industry experts from around the world shared their insights, providing valuable learning opportunities for attendees. This educational aspect of the festival is crucial in helping local filmmakers improve their craft and stay updated with global trends.

The 2024 Uganda Film Festival was a testament to the vibrant and evolving nature of the Ugandan film industry. Through its dedication to showcasing diverse narratives and nurturing talent, UFF continues to make a significant impact on both the local and international film scenes. As the festival grows, it remains a beacon of hope and opportunity for filmmakers, affirming the power of local stories to resonate on a global scale.