SXSW 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Wakaliwood! If that word seems to be nothing more than gibberish to you, then Once Upon A Time In Uganda will be a delightfully educational treat. If you are already familiar with Uganda’s filmmaking community, then the documentary still proves to be a fascinating look at the hardships and high points the creator endures in making these films. Yes, that is a creator, as in singular.
Isaac Nabwana grew up watching action films starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, and other 1980s action stalwarts. He decided from a young age that it was his dream to make films. But he lives in Wakaliga, Uganda, so for a long time, that was just a pipe dream. Isaac went on to become a brickmaker and marry the big-hearted Harriet.
“…follows the trials, tribulations, and triumphs as Isaac, Alan, Harriet…make movies and attempt to get them out to as wide an audience as possible.”
But as the years passed and technology improved, the price point of video cameras began to drop—especially consumer-grade cameras, the kind filmed on mini digital videotapes (mini-DV for short). Isaac was able to get his hands on one such camera, and in 2008 he released his first film, the drama Ekisa Butwa. In 2010, he made three movies, including his most well-known title, Who Killed Captain Alex? The trailer for which went viral on YouTube.
Alan Hofmanis sees the joy and fun being put into these films and drops his entire life in the United States of America to join Isaac and his Ramon Film Productions. He and the filmmaker hit it off quite quickly and became fast friends, confidants even. Alan used to work in Hollywood and as a public relations, marketing guy. He puts these skills to work to try and drum up more than just a viral interest in Isaac’s film. Alan also acts in a good number of the movies. And with that, Wakaliga became the filmmaking hub of Uganda, now dubbed Wakaliwood.
Once Upon A Time In Uganda follows the trials, tribulations, and triumphs as Isaac, Alan, Harriet, and the various cast and crew members make movies and attempt to get them out to as wide an audience as possible. See, while there’s a small circle of people around the world that know of Wakaliwood and major publications and news channels have covered the DIY, joyous spirit surrounding Ramon Film Productions, funding is not exactly pouring in.
"…highlights humanity’s tendencies to want to be understood and heard."