Mind you, the price tag for each film is approximately $200. While that may not sound like much to most readers, the average income in Uganda is only just over $18,000. That is the average, so it includes higher-paying jobs such as solicitors, CEOs, and the like. Yeah, so that is not chump change. This means that productions only happen when there’s enough scraped together, so some titles are in post-production for a very long time.
The movie is directed by Cathryne Czubek and Hugo Perez and is fantastic. The story as it unfolds—Alan’s attempts to get a Wakaliwood film to play at an international film festival and Isaac turning Who Killed Captain Alex? into a TV show—allows for both dramatic personality clashes and a unique view of what it takes to make an independent action-comedy (as most of Isaac’s films are).
“…presented in a way that invites the audience to celebrate with its subjects.”
They seamlessly move between these stories and really allow the viewer to invest in Wakaliwood’s future. Part of that is because Isaac, Harriet, and Alan are determined, optimistic people when all is said and done. They love making these movies and being able to solve problems on the fly. For example, their camera mount is made from, in part, a car jack.
It is all presented in a way that invites the audience to celebrate with its subjects. This also means that when the drama unfurls, like when Alan leaves after being there for several years, it hits just as hard. Of course, this being the uplifting, heartfelt documentary it is, there’s a sweet, reunion, and seeing how they move on from there just highlights humanity’s tendencies to want to be understood and heard.
Once Upon A Time In Uganda is a triumph on all levels. It is filmed with style, follows immensely likable people, and has an infectious, exuberant spirit that is impossible to resist. If you haven’t seen one of Isaac Nabwana’s films, I highly checking them out. Then, watch this documentary to see all the blood, sweat, tears, and fun that goes into making them. In short, this is a masterpiece.
Once Upon A Time In Uganda was scheduled to screen at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival.