Hollywood star Ntare Mwine has given Ugandan filmmakers a shot in the arm by introducing a short film competition where the winner will take home USD 1,000 (approximately Shs 3.7 million).
Mr Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, who holds both Ugandan and American citizenship, unveiled the challenge while meeting film stakeholders who converged at the Uganda Communications Commission head office in Bugolobi on Sunday, 29th December 2019.
Revealing that he had recently taken up responsibility as a cultural tourism ambassador, Mr Mwine explained that his new assignment entails promoting not only the natural beauty of Uganda but also its natural talents.
The $1,000 film competition, which he says aims “to inspire you guys to tell unique stories from Uganda,” will be an annual or bi-annual competition for short films of not more than five minutes.
The nitty-gritty is yet to be worked out as Mr Mwine engages UCC and other partners on the possibility of making the prize juicier.
The challenge was well received by the approximately 150 filmmakers and actors present. Some of them may be celebrities in their own right, but the presence of Ntare Mwine in their midst was an awe-inspiring moment, which explains the big turnout at such an inconvenient time – Sunday afternoon in the middle of end-of-year holidays.
The “talk-back session” with Mr Mwine was organised by the Screen Actors Guild in partnership with UCC and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB).
In his welcome remarks, the UCC Head of Multimedia Mr Meddie Kaggwa said the Commission believes “learning from the best is the only way to improve our sector” hence the decision to host Mr Mwine.
On his part, Mr Douglas Lubega, the acting president Screen Actors Guild, expressed gratitude to UCC and UTB for working with his team to make the meeting possible.
Mr Mwine told his audience that he was happy to be home, adding that he likes to see artists “work together, collaborate and inspire one another.”
He shared with the group tips and clips on how to make successful auditions, including self-tape.
Mwine also advised film actors not to think they can only make it abroad, citing the play Biro, his solo performance which premiered at the National Theatre in Kampala 17 years ago before going on to conquer the world and change his life.
“I came home and promoted the play here, and from here it went all over the world,” he said, reminding his audience of the adage “think globally, act locally.”
To artists who think that one needs millions to break through, Mwine said that creativity does not always thrive in moments of abundance, yet limited means could force one to be creative.
Besides, he noted that one could nowadays shoot and even edit a movie on their phone or iPad, thus making it possible for creative but financially crippled minds to showcase their talent.
“Everything has been democratised; there is equal access; we know who the true artists are because true artists have to create whether they have the means or not,” he said.
Asked how one can pick themselves up after being turned down following an audition, Mwine advised: “think of the audition as the one moment you get to act the role, then let it go.”
Mwine, who holds both Ugandan and American citizenship, is best known for his roles in Mira Nair’s “Queen of Katwe” where he acted alongside Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, and more recently Ekwa Msangi’s “Farewell Amor,” which is due for its World Premiere at Sundance Film Festival in 2020.
Mwine also acted in “Boost” by Oscar-winning producers Kieran Crilly and Frederic Bohbot, and “Blood Diamond” by Oscar-winning director Ed Zwick where he stars alongside Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio.
Back home in Uganda, Mwine announced his arrival on the scene when he staged Biro, a multi-media solo performance piece, which held its World Premiere at the National Theatre. After that, the play gained international acclaim as it premiered in London, New York and South Africa, among other high profile venues.