Uganda

From Wakaliwood, With Love

The genesis of the latest African movie industry

The average budget for a film: US$ 200. The props: frying pans and pvc pipes forming rocket launchers, condoms filled with red dye for gunshot wounds. In short, shoestring. Welcome to Wakaliwood, home to Uganda’s emerging cinema industry. In Wakaliga, the ramshackle Kampala neighborhood where most films are shot, each of the roughly 2,000 inhabitants dreams of a glorious destiny in Hollywood.

One of the latest films was about Ebola. It tells the tale of a virus which emerges in Uganda and soon spreads across the world. The director is Isaac Nabwana, a self-taught filmmaker, as well as a screenwriter and producer, who has been called Uganda’s Tarantino after the extreme violence that characterizes his movies.

Nabwana recently teamed up with Alan Hofmanis, an American expat who also stars in his films, and together they launched a crowdfunding campaign which raised US$ 13,000. A true fortune, which they say they will use to buy projectors, hard drives, generators (which are crucial to filmmaking in a country plagued by constant power outages) and possibly a plot of land to finally build a proper film studio. Until recently, the room where they edit their movies used to be a pigsty.

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