GFF Review: Once Upon a Time in Uganda

Isaac and his cast

While everyone has heard of Hollywood and Bollywood, much, much less is known about the smaller film industries around the world. Indeed, the whole continent of Africa is often forgotten. Overlooked for many reasons, not least due to the lack of structure, financial and government support in most countries. Uganda has one of the most productive, which is largely thanks to the work of Isaac Nabwana’s Ramon Film Productions, which is based in Wakaliga near Kampala.

The budding African Michael Bay has made over twenty film and continues to create low-budget, high-action films at a prolific rate. With tiny budgets and casting the locals, the maverick filmmaker has managed to turn his neighbourhood into what is now called Wakaliwood. Alan Hofmanis was so captivated by his work that he left a life in New York City to go and live in Uganda, quickly becoming Isaac’s right-hand man. Once Upon a Time in Uganda tells their story.

Once Upon a Time in Uganda is a lively documentary portrait of a man who against all odds has become an African action maestro. In a highly competitive marketplace, it’s often difficult to get your voice heard. Cathryne Czubek’s film demonstrates the echoes of the past which still impact on many filmmakers from the poorer parts of the world. There is somewhat of an expectation that European film festivals will only screen social issue films from smaller markets and as Once Upon a Time in Uganda demonstrates there’s so much more.

Once Upon a Time in Uganda screens at Glasgow Film Festival.

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