Saturday, October 13, 2012

ZUKA Winners 2012

It is with great pleasure that Zuka Foundation would like to announce that the Audience's Favourite Film for 3rd Annual Zuka Students Film Festival, is,

The Boxer, by Michael Ilako, of Mohammed Amin Foundation, Kenya.

The Filmmaker also won himself a Scroll from Zuka and a cash prize of One Million Uganda Shillings. The prize is a contribution towards his next film project. This means they will get the money upon submitting a script and budget for their next project. This contribution was made possible through the generous support of VeFJO e.V in Germany, in Partnership with Zuka Foundation.

In second place was Christmas Turkey by Washiwala Reagan (Youth and Film Uganda - A project under Maisha Film Lab)

In third place was Wololo by Catherine Muema of Mohammed Amin Foundation, Kenya.

The Most Thematic Film award went to "Choices" - Directed by Berry Muga of Kibera Film School in Kenya.

We also had awards for non Student Films. And the winners were:

1. Best Picture - "The City blade Runner" - Director: Hillary Musinguzi (Uganda)

2. Best up and Coming Film - "
The Source" - Director: Ali Musoke (Uganda)

*For the Student filmmakers, the purpose of these awards is to encourage young talent to make more films, while for the independent filmmakers, we recognise and appreciate their work. Last year's student winner, Emmanuel Kawooya, screened the trailer of his upcoming film. He was the proud winner of the One million Uganda Shillings cash prize that was given away in 2011.

The Zuka Students Film Festival is organized by Zuka Foundation and its partners. The cash prize is made possible through the generous contributions of VeFJO e.V, a German based organization that supports young talent in East Africa. Other partners included, Amakula Cultural Foundation, Bayimba Cultural Foundation, Goethe-Zentrum Kampala, Alliance Fran├žaise Kampala, Maisha Film Lab, Docskool in Nepal, Kampala Film School and our individual partners. 

Zuka is an annual showcase of some of the young film-making talent in East Africa. This year, we also featured films from Rwanda, Singapore and Bangladesh. Zuka would also like to thank in a special way, Kshitiz  Adhiraj, Jeremy Chua and Mostofa sarwar Farooki for offering invaluable support in making this year's event the success that it was. This year's Festival Director was Chris Kayonga.

Zuka is committed to continuing along the path of growth as we grow along with East Africa's film scene. Our goal, is to "Tell stories to inspire generations."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

For Your Consideration

4 October 2012
The Mohamed Amin Foundation
Nairobi, Kenya
MoFORCE Student Films Win Awards in Uganda: ZUKA Festival
We dedicate this ZUKA award to the memory of our fellow student Mathew Kibi
Director of Photography – The Boxer
The Boxer and Wololo took honours at the 3rd edition of the ZUKA FILM FESTIVAL,
held in Kampala, Uganda on Saturday 29 September 2012.
The Mohamed Amin Foundation, Nairobi, Kenya through its TV and Film Training
Centre, MoFORCE Training, has had excellent film festival results with its student short
films in the past 10 years. Repeated Awards have been won at ZIFF (Zanzibar);
AMAKULA (Uganda); ZUKA (Uganda); KIFF (Kenya); Tampere (Finland); BISFF
(Bangkok, Thailand); The Student Film Festival of Lagos, Nigeria and a Nomination for
World’s Best Short Film in New York.
2012, is no exception and in Uganda, the MoFORCE films won awards and accolades at
the ZUKA Foundation’s 3rd Annual Film Festival, on Saturday night.
The ZUKA Foundation announced that the Audience's Favourite Film for the 3rd
Annual ZUKA Students Film Festival, is:
The Boxer, Directed by Michael Ilako, of The Mohammed Amin Foundation,
The Filmmaker also won himself a Scroll from ZUKA and a cash prize of One Million
Uganda Shillings. The prize is a contribution towards his next film project. The money
will be released upon submitting of a script and budget for the next film.
This contribution was made possible through the generous support of VeFJO e.V in
Germany, in Partnership with ZUKA Foundation.
The Boxer
Director: Michael Ilako
Script: Michael Ilako, Denis Munene and the late Mathew Kibi
Script Supervisor: Keziah Wangui
Editing: Michael Ilako, Dennis Munene and the late Mathew Kibi
Sound: John Deng, Patricia Gitau
Director of Photography: The late Mathew Kibi
Camera: Denis Munene Focus Puller: May Wairimu Grips: Ernest Okeyo
Producer: Catherine Muema
Casting: MoForce 13 with Ayaz Rajput
Technical Advisor: Ayaz Rajput
Executive Producers: David Johnson &Christel de Wit, The Mohamed Amin Foundation
This is a wonderful incentive for young filmmakers and The Mohamed Amin Foundation
commends ZUKA for this initiative.
More Awards:
The third place in the Audience’s Favourite Film was taken by the music video Wololo,
Directed by Catherine Muema of The Mohammed Amin Foundation, Kenya with lyrics
written and performed by Kenyan artist, Nina Ogot
See Wololo here
According to this year’s Festival Director: Chris Kayonga, ‘The ZUKA Foundation and its
awards for Student filmmakers are to encourage young talent to make more films.
ZUKA is an annual showcase of some of the young film-making talent in East Africa.
This year, we also featured films from Rwanda, Singapore and Bangladesh.
ZUKA is committed to continuing along the path of growth as we grow along with East
Africa's film scene. Our goal is to "Tell stories to inspire generations."
We thank the ZUKA Foundation and all their sponsors and assistants for making this
END of Press Release

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hours Away: The Box Office: A Crowd's Worth

Hours Away from the 3rd Annual Students Film festival here at ZUKA in the midst of the hubbub of last minute touches to the artifice that is a film festival, we have pause to reflect on the event and the campaign of which the event is a part of.

The aim of  the campaign in very simple, to promote film because however debatable the claim is, we see film as a medium for increasing access to knowledge and opportunity especially for the youth.

Film is not taken in isolation as we have discovered in the last few years of putting this event together, the cultural industries given their proximity to everyday people have limited barriers to entry as oppossed to other spheres of socio-economic activity.

This campaign is happening in the context of  a worldwide economic downturn that is affecting the high end  the movie industry, namely Hollywood, with box office receipts in steady decline.

The reasons for this are debatable as are the remedies proposed.
 What this context provides is that filmmakers must create value,over and above consumer products whose fall in demand is evident. It calls into question, conventional definitions of "entertainment". Entertainment value is derived from a variety of sources depending on the audience, however, self esteem building, thought provoking,calls to action as packaged into a film or video nourish the spirit as much as they entertain. So perhaps its time to look at entertainment as a a means to convey these virtues.

Friday, August 31, 2012

What Product are filmmakers selling ?

In a focus discussion on contemporary East African cinema hosted by ZUKA and Patrick Sekyaya and Prince Joe Nakibinge we asked what product are filmmakers selling to an audience that is increasingly exposed to global cinema. The need to differentiate the product from Nollywood, Hollywood so that the selling point is the experience of the Ugandan way of life/culture was articulated. The discussion brought out the comparison between Nigeria and Uganda the former with a formal industry with financial institutions willing to finance productions and the result is it produces 70 films a week compared to Uganda with 30 films a year. This output necessitates an entire channel, Africa Magic devoted to Nigerian content no other country in Africa can sustain an entire channel. The lack of institutional support does not end at finance but includes the lack of political will to enforce quotas to protect the local industry against an influx of Hollywood and Asian films. Restrict access to foreign films creating demand for local cinema and therefore increase audience access to local films and coupled with incentives such as waivers on import duty on film equipment, local filmmakers will be encouraged to create. And at least locally will not have to compete directly with global productions. Local audiences will be compelled to consume local productions by the sheer volume of productions on the market. Unfair competition with global productions stifles creativity with local filmmakers having to create content for an audience that is raised on a diet of global productions and as a result susceptible to neo colonialism that creates unrealistic expectations of local productions and cinema in general. These neo colonial attitudes to cinema especially the effect these have of audience preferences and tastes inevitably dictate to the filmmaker that caters to these audiences and the images produced locally reinforce perceptions, neo colonial stereotypes and limit individual freedoms.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

First thoughts

First Thoughts.....For the filmmakers
ZUKA ought to answer the following question posed by filmmakers affirmatively.
So what if my film is shown at ZUKA?
ZUKA's existence depends on how well this question is answered.
So every activity at this event should cater to the filmmakers simply because if they are looked after, ZUKA is looked after.
Its also important to note that ZUKA Film Festival is but one of many interventions in the East African Film industry and development in the region in general. Therefore the film festival is there to complement such interventions . Interventions by broadcasters both traditional and new, exhibitors, festivals, artists,trainers and change agents....
It is with this mind that festival programme is formulated.

What the filmmaker needs?
Opportunity to grow

The ZUKA Film Festival event programme should meet these needs and this is how it should be judged.

And how?


The artist, filmmaker's work must be appreciated and part of the motivation of working is that other people will get as much pleasure from the work  as you the artist. This is the first function of the film festival , to exhibit the work of artists and expose it to a wider audience.
Therefore the events programme should devote festival time to screenings, just how much time will depend on the number of film submissions as well as the need for recognition for filmmakers.

The effort of the artist, filmmaker needs to be recognised by the audience. And depending on the nature of the audience, this recognition can take many forms, cash, awards, festival invites...  but all just as important to the filmmaker.
By segmenting the screenings to cater to audiences that are willing to recognise the filmmaker with cash,distribution deals awards and festival invites....
The key is first  identifying this audience and their tastes to satisfy them and the filmmaker. That way we match the audience with the filmmaker and both are rewarded.

Opportunities for Growth

The festival programme this year at ZUKA  sets out to meet the artist at their point of need, namely  creating opportunities for growth, now ZUKA can't give what we don't have. Therefore creating opportunities for its own growth is a necessity for ZUKA, this growth should be measurable. Its measured by
the sheer volume and variety of the submissions,
the number of partners,
media contacts, media presence,  
the number of films bought, broadcast on local TV,online and of course,
ZUKA's well being as a going concern, specifically its ability to attract funding for its programmes.

The festival programme should create opportunities for growth for ZUKA and the filmmakers. As such the fate of ZUKA is linked to that of the filmmakers whose work is exhibited.
For this to happen ZUKA should be a meeting place, therefore some festival time should be devoted to networking, a launch night represents such an opportunity in an informal environment. 

The event programme should attract more folks to the event from all walks of life and to do so there must be a range of activities all building up to the finale.
And so with great pleasure...

Thursday, July 05, 2012

What is Cooler than a Million?

Following the news that ZUKU had pumped 1 Million USD into the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) over 10 years, we got to thinking amidst the champagne toasts. What is cooler than a million?

We reckon the objective of a film festival such as ZIFF is to expose a growing number of film makers in the region to the world. That is to distributers, technicians, producers, broadcasters of international repute not to mention  audiences.

It would be cool if some of this money went towards facilitating skills and knowledge transfers through co productions for instance. Productions commissioned by ZIFF produced by crews from all over the world including East Africa to be broadcast on the ZUKU platform, with ZIFF retaining the rights to the broadcast so as to recoup its seed investment thereby sustaining the ecosystem of film and tv regionally and outernationally. Its important that East African slots on such a production crew are competed for and not just handed out, ZIFF jury selections can be a guide.

Cooler still would be training seminars and all manner of support for  would be festival directors in the region with the objective being to create a feeder system or tier of platforms for film making talent . So for instance a festival selection at say ZUKA automatically qualifies one to ZIFF. The competition at one prepares the filmmaker for the next stage, a consistency in quality of content will result.

For this to work, the partner film festivals and in particular the teams that organise them ought to be trained to run the festivals to a standard that complements ZIFF, still these smaller festivals must retain their creative autonomy and remain authentic to the communities in which they are situated. The diversity of jury selections from festivals across the region will sustain ZIFF and more importantly the community of film lovers across the region.

Positively ice age would be, school tours across the region to expose the work of filmmakers in the region to a wider regional audience which will attract financial backing from investors in the region eager to reach the same audience. These school tours would include screenings and appearances by renowned film makers to share experiences with the next generation.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Made in Uganda for the whales in Japan and polar bears in Alaska

There is that scene in Children of Men where the end of the world is upon man kind and a sculptor oblivious to the despair around him carries on adding finishing touches to a sculpture. For some artists the ability to work is enough its a privilege in itself  and yet for others that's not enough anybody can paint, sing, make a film so that's a given, the minimum. For the latter the former is more vain but at least  unlikely to  sacrifice aesthetics for functionality. Optimism over pragmatism, look ahead or stare at the ground. This is what every young artist, nay every one wrestles with.

For young filmmakers in Uganda, confronted daily by the ills of their communities,not to mention the hassles of getting a film made, each frame references this reality directly or indirectly. With the filmmaker as a development journalist though,the concern is these unwieldy job titles exert unnecessary pressure on creativity and the result is didactic work hardly captivating viewing. For most to be self serving, a self expressionist, read independent lasts until the hunger pains. Hence the need to stay relevant if only to attract funding from NGOs whose agenda is often more dubious than the source of their money.

Mutual exploitation, hand washing, log rolling as its called by negotiators at events like Rio +20 or the latest  round of trade talks is what film making is about and so too it appears is changing the world .
Name check the greatest film ever sold and you get the picture , having gone through all that trouble why not make a masterpiece as close as possible to your boldest vision. May be its as the savvy have  learnt,know your audience, 1% will pay to watch your film ,99% will just watch.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Legacy v Largesse

Things left behind, as a consequence of a life well lived , or not ,the best laid plans of predecessors, ancestors in a word, legacy, is foremost in the mind.
Events are moving a pace festival planning and all,  we are accepting film submissions, dead line is set for August1, for more info send an email to

 So to Brazil where event planners are are wrestling with the concept of legacy. After the event, Olympics or World Cup what next? Will it be an extinction level event, like say , Athens 2004 or South Africa 2010

Events planning is not what it used to be, especially for  those planning events funded by tax payers.To account for that largesse and appease the baying mob  events planners in Brazil have to solve long standing social problems like widespread poverty, shortage of housing, youth unemployment,girl child education and still throw the greatest party in living memory. And you thought you had a lot of work to do.

The late Rodney King had legacy on his mind in his final moments at poolside.He had just published his memoir even though events over took him so to speak, admittedly not for the first time.Its safe to say raging against mortality aside, justifying one's existence not withstanding, there is more to life than partying and frolicking and also more to a film festival than what  meets the eye.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Meet the Golden Scroll Winner

"AND THE WINNER IS...." ( Zuka 2012). from on Vimeo.

Below is the abridged version of the interview with Ema for those unable to download the video. Note the question and responses that follow are paraphrased.

  Who are you?

My name is Ema Kawooya, a student at  Kampala University Film School and I am an aspiring professional filmmaker equally adept at script writing as I am with editing and directing.

 Where does your passion for film come from?

Ever since I can remember, I have loved movies and have always been fascinated by how they are made.

Tell us about the film you made....

It is called Just Roll It and I directed it. It is about everyday life in Kampala and in particular that staple food of the inner city dweller, the chapati egg roll better known as Rolex. 

Interesting choice of subject.....

Amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, certain things go unnoticed and yet they have come to define the way of life here.The Rolex is but one such example.

How did you get it made?

It was a school project and the University made sure I  had everything I needed to make it happen.

Why is it a documentary?

I majored in documentary film making  at film school.   

How did you learn about ZUKA?

On the internet.

What was it like to win?

Surprised and overjoyed all at once.

What next?

I am working on a documentary about funeral rites among Baganda, a  tribe in Uganda. This project is funded by the grant from ZUKA and VefJo.ev.    

What role do you play in the bigger picture that is the Uganda film industry?

I am establishing myself in a nascent industry, looking to gain then exploit my first mover advantage.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ground Swell of Investors @Idea Auction

An idea auction that's what it is.The "it" in question is the crowd funding phenomenon. Crowd funding is a legacy of Web 2.0, a product of the age of social media. Put simply, any one with an idea, pitches it to the world wide online community, in the form of a video, then depending on how persuasive the pitch is and how many people see it via email, facebook, twitter... people will contribute money via credit card to see this idea through to fruition.

The Zuka campaign is ongoing, feel free to check it out and  share the link with a friend or two , to think this fundraising platform has been around since 2008.The small entrepreneur with internet access can now attract investment from around the world. Almost like floating one's enterprise on the stock exchange except your funders are not strictly speaking investors because they don't have a controlling interest in your enterprise but rather wish you well. Ideally they do not expect a monetary return on their contribution.

Here are some choice posts to help you navigate your way to start up money for that new project of yours.

On how to design your pitch consider this 
 On getting funders to contribute to your campaign consider this
On What to do when its all over


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

MADE : The Case Studies

ZUKA has eyes for the internet and in particular initiatives such as Women Make Movies this non profit is for all intents and purposes that is making and distributing films by women, a cooperative and its been around since the 1970s. This collective is nothing short of inspiring in the way they go about their business, how they organize themselves, individuals from diverse backgrounds and different generations.Yet they  still put out award winning films largely independently. Happy 40th bday.

African Writers Series is another initiative that is worth celebrating, going through its anthology, at of all places the public library on Buganda Rd., offered insight into this institution that brought to life so many memorable characters from all walks of African life. Its success appears to be result of drawing on the talents of a number of young writers with independence on the mind, owing perhaps to the post colonial era, from different parts of Africa brought together by a love of  the written word by a lover of the medium

 These two initiatives and another one closer to home, the Kakuto SACCO,are instructive I find. Cooperatives and Savings association are nothing new and because they champion collective action based on individual responsibility, they are a means to grass root development and hence the fuss about them.

This post is about social entrepreneurship and some successful stories worth a read.
In that vein, step forward.Shahidul Alam fed up with the portrayal of his country in the Western media, he decided to start Pathshala.

Femi Kuti wonders will we ever unite  which leads one to ask what will this look like?
The Ndere group bears the DNA of what collective purpose might look like and how it would work or perhaps  Kibera Youth Reform, doing organic farming in the slums.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Of Cause celebs, #KONY 2012 to #ZUKA and beyond

It goes without saying that I personally have been left rather bemused confused but not dumbfounded,as this post will attempt to show, at the phenom that is KONY 2012. I have been aware of Invisible Children, the charity behind this campaign to get KONY, for some time now.Mainly through endorsements by musicians, a strategy that has paid off handsomely this time round. This association with celebrity has made their cause, cool and is it happening. If anything this campaign has demonstrated the media savvy of this group but it has raised in my mind more questions than answers. For, instance why now? Students of American foreign policy are quick to point to the new found oil riches of Uganda and the scramble for these between China and the US. It is a compelling argument, given that Invisible Children are calling for US military action. These folks will do well to read up on Diego Garcia and the Chagos Islands . Be that as it may, KONY must be stopped that's cool. Is it possible that so many can possibly miss the point so spectacularly?

More relevant to this blog is the relationship between traditional media, and so called new media, Web 2.0,twitter,Facebook,blogs e.t.c. If anything it will be interesting how this episode plays out. The success of KONY 2012 owes much to the failure of traditional media say, TV, radio and film to place this issue on the global agenda and keep it there. However this campaign has also relied heavily on traditional media to manipulate this agenda. You only have to look at the celebrities and opinion leaders such as P Diddy, Rihanna, George Clooney to name but a few who have used their high profile to bring this issue to every one's attention. They have tweeted the video link to their followers and have largely eschewed press conferences and live aid music concerts  the tried and true way of raising awareness about Africa favoured by celebrities. Still at the heart of this is a well made film that has captured if not hearts and minds but twitter accounts, Facebook profiles and blog posts.

It seems its too soon to call time on traditional media and if anything this episode is showing how old and new are working to frame and set the global agenda.

 PS:This brings me to #ZUKA, been tweeting for a while but this is the first hash tag I have helped create, so feel free to join the discussion, celebs invited too.

Oh! don't forget to check the video out

And this too... and visit