Four Ugandan filmmakers are part of selected global actors, mentors and critics that will be showcasing their works at the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) slated to take place from July 7 to July 15t, in Stone Town, Zanzibar.

The Ugandan filmmakers are Loukman Ali who will show a short film titled The Bad Mexican, Coutinho Kemiyondo a short film titled Kyenvu, Samuel Saviour Kizito a long feature film titled The Forbidden and Edmond Tamale, who will showcase a documentary titled Your Music Your Voice.

The film festival was established in 1997. It aims at developing and uplifting the East African film industry, through workshops that can be attended at no cost by upcoming professionals in the region.

“It obviously feels good to have my work selected for anything. I am happy someone else’s thinks my work is cool enough to showcase at their event. The the film is a dark comedy about youth unemployment. This is my first film and it is the first time I am participating in sort of festival. My goal is to meet people I can work with on future projects,” Ali said.

To Kemiyondo, ZIFF is one of the first festivals she knew and wanted to be a part of.

 “There is joy in taking part in a prestigious film festival that is on the continent. There is nothing like being chosen by your own. I know the issues that I deal with in Kyenvu are universal but even more so, are pertinent to our continent. I am excited to screen in front of an African market and look forward to seeing the reception of it,” she said.

Her film, Kyenvu, is about an independent young woman who lives through the taunts of using public transport on a daily basis.

As she struggles to find her footing in a patriarchal society that entitles men to women’s bodies, she finds love in a bitter sweet moment.

It was motived the by ‘Anti Pornography Act’ which Parliament passed into law, with a clause prohibiting women from wearing the mini skirt, hence the media label “Mini skirt bill.”

“However, when the final bill was passed, it held no clause on the banning of the mini skirt. The media, who had picked the nickname, failed to inform the public that that particular clause was struck out. The ‘miniskirt ban’ was being loosely interpreted by mobs as an excuse to target and strip women thought to be improperly dressed. This was the driving force behind Kyenvu,” the filmmaker explains.

Mr Kizito, a freelance filmmaker, is happy about his film being selected to be among the 20 feature films on the official selection list, particularly because there were over 4,000 films submitted to ZIFF this year.

“It shows development in the quality of our films. I am, however, unhappy that The Forbidden is the only selected feature film from Uganda.” The film is about a story of a young girl ‘Dian’, a single mother who is a smart girl at school whose education is interrupted by lack of tuition.

“This stress pushes her to pressure her mother to tell her who her father was but the mother keeps on hiding the truth. After her mother’s death, she gets hired to work as a maid at her boyfriend “Joseph’s” home where his father “Ssendi” rapes her.

Mr Kizito says: “She is later caught in a puzzle when she gets to know that she shares a the father with her boyfriend Joseph. It is the father who had already infected her with HIV through the sexual harassment.”

The same movie earned him recognition in Ghana last month, at the ‘Golden Movie Awards’ where it was nominated.

To Mr Tamale, being selected in the international film festival that has existed for more than twenty years, creates a strong platform for him to showcase not only his narrative but an opportunity to explore Ugandan culture of storytelling to the rest of the world.

He adds: “This also gives me more courage to continue producing more stories that can reach the international audience and I’m excited to see a double selection of my two stories to participate at the renowned festival and looking forward to represent my fellow Ugandans at the event come July.”

Your Music Your Voice is his second film under Edcom Filmz Limited, his company. It is a story about musical activists from different parts of the world emerging together in Kampala to sensitize people about their freedom of expression through art, poetry and music. 

The movie has also since been selected to participate at Cefalu Film Festival in Italy this year.  

Tamale says that Zanzibar International Film festival has come as an opportunity where he expects to meet and share ideas as well as learn from other experienced African filmmakers.

“Every filmmaker has his own genre so I want to explore my style of storytelling and also learn from other filmmakers selected to participate at the festival,” he adds.

According to Lara Utian Preston, the festival publicist, the workshop both gives input on directing skills and provides space for the participants to share their own experiences and give them the opportunity to network, linking the creative process with the practical workflows required to make visions come to life.

Through the experience of the instructors and participants, the workshop will provide and further develop applicable and inspiring strategies for female film makers operating in and from East Africa.

The workshop are facilitated by seasoned filmmakers and tutors Aylin Basaran, Cece Mlay and Debra Zimmerman, will focus on all phases of directing a fictional or documentary film, from creating an idea to developing a creative concept and the practical workflows.