THE WEEKLY REVIEW

LAILAH WINS BIG AT UFF

The Uganda Film Festival 2019 came to a glamourous climax last Friday with a movie named Lailah the biggest winner of the evening.

Lailah, whose director is serial winner Richard Mulindwa, won five awards; Best Post Production, Best Feature Film, Best Actor in a Feature Film and Viewer’s Choice.

Besides Lailah, for which Patrick Nkakalukanyi won Best Actor, other outstanding winners were Bed of Thorns, which saw Malaika Nyanzi winning Best Actress in a Feature Film, and veteran actor Philip Luswata, who won the Life Achievement Award.

The event, which was held at the Uganda Institute of Information and Communications Technology (UICT) Nakawa, lived up to its growing billing as Uganda’s own version of the celebrated Oscars with the pomp, décor and entertainment all a fitting finale to the week-long festival that involved several activities, including film screening, capacity building workshops and training.

Besides the who is who in Uganda’s film industry, notable guests included Minister of State for Works Katumba Wamala, President Museveni’s daughter Natasha Karugire, chief guest Italian Ambassador Massimiliano Mazzanti, not to mention the host UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi.

As promised, the award prizes were bigger, bolder and better, with every single nominee, including the winners, getting a minimum of incubator training worth Shs 5m courtesy of Stanbic Bank. Other major prizes included Shs 5m in cash, a camera worth Shs 20m, an international training programme each worth Shs 20m, and international exposure at reputable International Film Festivals each worth Shs 20m.

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While the glitzy UFF gala was for the invited few, the festival week before it offered free cinema screenings to film enthusiasts. Selected movies were assigned to different sponsors and cinemas for the free corporate screenings, starting with Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), which sponsored the premiere of Bed of Thorns on Friday, November 22, followed by UCC, which sponsored Red Rat on Monday, November 25. This was followed by N.S.I.W.E sponsored by Stanbic Bank on November 26; Lailah by MTN on November 27;and August by Multichoice Uganda on November 28.

After the Lailah screening, which was attended by, among others, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, UCC Executive Director Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, who was among the cinema-goers, tweeted: “It’s a good time for film given the attention the sector is receiving courtesy of Uganda Film Festival. The festival has attracted amazing partners, including Uganda Tourism Board, MTN, Stanbic Bank, Multichoice, Roke Telkom and more. Just enjoyed an evening hosted by MTN Uganda.”

Besides the corporate screenings at Acacia Mall’s Century Cinemax, the week-long movie bonanza also included a free menu of movies such as My Kingdom, Between the Lines, Omusinde, Grade 7 Girl and Test of Faith, among others, at Numax Cinema Entebbe, Ham Cinema Makerere and Country Cinema in Mbarara.

To put things into perspective, the UFF has hosted 9,000 cinema goers over its six-year lifetime, with a total of 2,300 films being submitted during this period.

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Free film screening aside, the UFF gala was also preceded by training workshops as usual. Two masterclasses were available for interested filmmakers to choose from, the first being on Audience Building, Crowdfunding and Social Media Marketing. Facilitated by celebrated film expert Paul Rieth, this particular masterclass had topics such as film financing, project development, pitching, film marketing and distribution. Based in Berlin, Germany, Reith has organised film festivals, worked as a journalist, founded a film production company and produced several short films of his own.

The goal of this masterclass was to inculcate among participants winning film marketing strategies. Filmmakers were particularly urged to focus on their audiences.

The second masterclass on Story Visualisation was led by Prof Abraham Linus of Ghana, thanks to Multichoice Talent Factory, UCC and Multichoice Uganda. This workshop aimed to equip local talent with skills on how to deliver good content.

During the gala, one of the winners attributed his success to an earlier UFF workshop he had attended, perhaps an indication that the significance of UFF type capacity building workshops can’t be overemphasised.

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With UFF 2019 done and dusted, it is back to the drawing board for the relevant UCC department, with all eyes set on the 2020 edition. And what better way to plan for the next UFF season than expressing appreciation to the sponsors who made this year so special!

During a breakfast meeting at the UCC head office in Bugolobi on Friday, December 6, the organisers and sponsors of UFF 2019 took stock of the past even as they threw hints about the future.

The UCC Executive Director Mr Godfrey Mutabazi gave out plaques to sponsors in appreciation of their support, pointing out that this was the first time UFF was getting sponsorship of this magnitude from the likes of Stanbic Bank, MTN Uganda, Multichoice Uganda, Uganda Tourism Board and Roke Telkom. The value of Stanbic’s sponsorship alone was Shs 350m, Mr Mutabazi revealed.

Yet for the sponsors, as the Multichoice Uganda Managing Director Mr Hassan Saleh who spoke on their behalf said, this year’s “very successful” event is only the beginning.

“This year is not a one-off; it’s the beginning. We are committed to this industry,” he said, representing all the major sponsors of UFF 2019, including StarTimes, State Wide Insurance and Citi Bank.  

Emboldened by the massive support by sponsors and promises of much more next year, Mr Mutabazi declared: “Next year it’s going to get better, I promise you.”

On the balance of evidence from UFF 2019, you can’t bet against that assertion.

Korean delegation visits

UFF aside, it was business as usual at the Commission with one of the last fortnight’s highlights being the visit of a delegation from the Central Radio Management Service (CRMS) of South Korea.

In March 2018, CRMS undertook to provide a multi-billion spectrum management system to UCC in the form of a grant. The two parties agreed on a partnership to enhance the Commission’s capacity to manage the radio spectrum in Uganda.

Korea’s CRMS committed to providing UCC with the system to enhance the regulator’s capability to monitor the usage of spectrum and improve compliance by spectrum licensees.

According to Uganda Communications Act Section 5, one of the Commission’s key functions is “to allocate, license, standardise and manage the use of radiofrequency spectrum resources in a manner that ensures the widest variety of programming and optimal utilisation of spectrum resources.”

During a meeting with the Korean delegation, the UCC Executive Director Mr Godfrey Mutabazi said the system had “complemented the Commission’s existing capacity building coverage gaps in areas of Mbale and Masindi, hence increasing our ability and capacity to monitor radio spectrum usage, utilisation and compliance.”

A visionary organisation

In a festival week where UCC gave away lots of awards, it was for a change that the regulator itself was for once at the receiving end of an award – as a visionary organisation demonstrating exemplary practices and contributing to the socio-economic transformation of Uganda.

UCC was recognised during the 7th Visionaries of Uganda Awards held at the Kampala Serena Hotel on November 28. The event was presided over by H.E. the Vice President Edward Ssekandi and attended by the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development Matia Kasaija, and the Minister of Public Service Muruli Mukasa, among other dignitaries.

The 7th Visionaries of Uganda Awards, which was coordinated by the National Planning Authority (NPA), ran under the theme, Celebrating Dynamic Leadership and Strengthening the Fundamentals of the Economy to Achieve the Uganda Vision 2040.

UCC was specifically awarded for “Best Visionary Government ICT Regulatory Agency of the Year” for the communications regulator’s outstanding contribution towards Uganda’s quest for Middle-Income status and Vision 2040.

The award was received by UCC’s Head of Public Relations and International Relations Mr Ibrahim Bbossa who represented the UCC Executive Director Mr Godfrey Mutabazi at the event.

Provident Fund AGM

The UCC Staff Provident Fund held its Annual General Meeting at the City Royale Hotel in Bugolobi on November 28, 2019. The fund, which was established to ensure financial security for all UCC staff upon leaving the organisation, incorporates monthly contributions from the employer and individual staff members, which are then invested to maximise returns.

In his speech, the ED Mr Godfrey Mutabazi described the scheme as one of the most competitive in Uganda’s pension sector and urged members to save and manage their finances prudently so as to enjoy comfortable retirement when it comes.

The Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Ms Alice Nyangoma, who is also UCC Director Audit, thanked the ED for supporting the scheme and gave a comprehensive report on its performance during the past year, which she said was positive.

The day’s guest speaker, Ronald Mukasa, delivered an inspiring presentation that combined humour with a stinging rebuke of the bad financial decisions people tend to make.

In one of the highlights of his presentation, Mr Mukasa asked his audience how long it would take for their children to notice if they lost their job. He also pointed out that how people behave at work is a reflection of how they behave when running a personal business.

“If you can’t deal with a difficult boss, you can’t deal with a difficult customer,” he said, amid laughter.

Besides sharing annual performance indicators, the UCC Staff Provident Fund AGM is an opportunity for staff to reflect on their personal financial decisions, and to that end, the organisers couldn’t have found a more appropriate speaker.

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