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Berlinale Forum: IMANI - Caroline Kamya's itimate portrait of Uganda post Idi Amin, post LRA (Lords Resistance Army)

IMANI, a film by ugandan film maker Caroline Kamya will premiere in the Forum at the Berlinale 2010. In the course of just one day we venture into the lives of three characters within the diverse landscape of contemporary Uganda.  Imani provides A refreshing look at Uganda post Idi Amin, post LRA (Lords Resistance Army).

A fresh new talent, director Caroline Kamya, gives us an intimate portrait of the lives of a child soldier, a maid and a hip hop dancer living in Uganda today.  

"Olweny" is a deep thinking, intense 12 year old former child soldier. A new chapter in his live begins as he starts his journey to his rural home after a few weeks of post-war rehabilitation. Is he ready to return to his family who have not seen him for over 4 years or are demons of his past going to resurface once again?

"Mary" is a strong and determined 25 year old maid who returns from her village to a wealthy suburb in the capital Kampala where she works. Family responsibilities create havoc in her daily routine forcing her to make some tough decisions that will forever affect her life. 

"Armstrong" is fun loving and talented 18 year old break dancer with a turbulent background.  He makes plans to return to the inner city "hood" to stage a free dance performance but skeletons from his past surface and force him to face what he thought he had left behind.

Imani is a visual feast of stunning worlds revealing the little known city of Kampala and the formerly war torn region of Gulu providing a unique perspective from this region of Africa.

Music is an essential ingredient in this feature and the blend of popular contemporary local language acoustic and hiphop flavours, alongside traditional African beats carries the narratives skillfully woven together to form the tapestry of both rural and urban life in Uganda today.

“Imani” is the debut- feature film by award winning director Caroline Kamya and written by her sister, social anthropologist, Dr Agnes Kamya. “The Kamya Sisters” are the ambitious filmmaking sister act behind Imani.

Berlinale Screening Schedule:

11.02.10 09:30HRS CinemaxX5(ENG) (First day of the Festival)
12.02.10 22:00HRS CinemaxX4(ENG)
13.02.10 15.00HRS Cubix(GER)
14.02.10 20:00HRS Arsenal(ENG)
21.02.10 17:00HRS Delphi-Filmpalast(GER) (Last day of the festival)
ENG- English subtitles
GER- German subtitles

Director’s Statement
This is an exciting time for African Cinema. In East Africa specifically, cinema is now going through a renaissance with a small group of strong female directors emerging on the world stage. Their films are different from the francophone art house or the West African melodramas of “Nollywood”. A new wave has come about and IMANI is a product from the “East African New Wave”.

IMANI is a post hip-hop generation film. My influences reach from the great directors of the francophone African film genre (who I honor) to the esthetics of some European cinema (of which I am a great fan). African American filmmakers of the blaxploitation era have also made their mark on my work with a touch of the South American fiction film. I am a product of a global life and hence my work is deeply rooted in the land of my birth of which I am proud, is influenced by the places I have lived, the people I have met and the films I have enjoyed most. My aim is to produce a film that is a new way of making film narratives from our continent. The pacing and rhythm is very different from conventional western cinema which is very intentional. The slow moving intro to the fast juxtaposed cuts that pick up the pace in the latter sections of the film are reflective of my style of filmmaking. The use of music that is an integral part of life in Africa and in the Diaspora take centre stage in my film.  

lMANI which means "faith” is so called because all title characters survive and rely on faith. The film is also a testament to the belief I have in our creativity as Ugandans. We can tell our own stories in a powerful and unique way, in our own voices. IMANI is the first feature to be filmed on a RED Camera in Uganda and also in the local languages of Luganda, and Acholi with a cast and crew of mainly inexperienced locals. In addition, for the first time the area of Gulu is captured on film by a local fiction filmmaker highlighting life after the conflict of recent years.

Pressekontakt:
Bärbel Mauch, Kollwitzstrasse 45, 10405 Berlin
tel/fax + 49-30-308 19 222 - bamauch(at)yahoo.de

IT’S AFRICA’S TIME
This film is the first of its kind, a trilogy depicting life in contemporary Uganda.
lMANI which means "faith” is so called because all title characters survive and rely on faith. The film is also a testament to the belief I have in our creativity as Ugandans. We can tell our own stories in a powerful and unique way, in our own voices. IMANI is the first feature to be filmed on a RED Camera in Uganda and also in the local languages of Luganda, and Acholi with a cast and crew of mainly inexperienced locals. In addition for the first time the area of Gulu is captured on film by a local fiction filmmaker highlighting life after the conflict of recent years.

STYLE
IMANI is a post hip-hop generation film. I am influenced by the great directors of the francophone African film genre (who I honor) to the esthetics of some European cinema (of which I am a great fan). African American filmmakers of the blaxspoitation era have also made their mark on my work with a touch of the South American fiction film. I am a product of a global life and hence my work is deeply rooted in the land of my birth of which I am proud, is influenced by the places I have lived, the people I have met and the films I have enjoyed most. My aim is to produce a film that is a new way of making film narratives from our continent. The pacing and rhythm is very different from conventional western cinema which is very intentional. The slow moving intro to the fast juxtaposed cuts that pick up the pace in the latter sections of the film are reflective of my style of filmmaking. The use of music that is an integral part of life in Africa and in the Diaspora take centre stage in my film.  

“East African New Wave” - History
This is an exciting time for African Cinema. In East African specifically, cinema is now going though a renaissance with a small group of strong female directors emerging on the world stage. There films are different from the francophone art house or the West African melodramas of “Nollywood”. A new wave has come about and IMANI is a product from the “East African New Wave”.

IMANI is three years in the making. The initial short story “Shadow of Tainted Sound” the basis of one of the stories in the feature IMANI was discovered in 2007.  The film IMANI was competed in 2008 and shooting started in November 2008 in both rural and urban locations in Gulu and Kampala, over a six-week schedule. Once a rough cut was made I then decided to have a re-shoot of some key scenes that felt needed improvement and film additional scenes. Since I am looking at both a local and international audience the feedback from both focus groups led me to dig deeper, stretching my resources further. We were pleased when we received some support funding from The Global Film Initiative.

We then filmed for an extra three weeks in June of 2009. Once I decided to have a reshoot I was robbed at home and about half of the props and costumes were stolen. This created a “challenge” we there is no stable industry in Uganda and we had to recreate some costumes form scratch as we had no duplicates that could be bought.

IMANI, is truly a labour of LOVE . It is about our lives in Uganda, our universal issues and our. Ugandan society is examined through the lives of those living in harsh conditions. I poke fun at the rich and aim to uplift those who struggle for a better life.

THE CAST
One of the most important aspects of the IMANI for me was a strong cast. As we have little to no tradition of filmmaking in Uganda and this was the first of its kind from a local filmmaker there are no casting agencies from which to access talent. In addition we have a strong theater tradition but I was not keen on using theatre actors for my narrative film. Hence open call began with posters at the National Theater. From over 300 people who attended the open auditions I selected 40 to attend an intensive actors boot camp that I ran with an acting coach from Kenya. From this I selected a wonderful cast of non-actors and even some runners for the crew.

THE CREW
Eighty percent of the crew had never worked on a fiction film before let alone a feature film. Four volunteers that I met in Canada (selected by me when I was shadowing a director in Vancouver) came to work on the project such as the DOP, Focus Puller, Camera Operator and 1st AD. The rest of the team came from Uganda, Kenya, and the UK. Those who were trainees and assistants in these all areas of the production team are now heading up their various departments on iVAD productions on commercials and short films.

THE FORMAT
While in Vancouver I discussed filming IMANI on The RED Camera. The team from Canada were able to assist me in getting a greatly reduced kit from Canada that they then traveled to Uganda with for the shoot. I wanted the quality of celluloid but at a fraction for the price and what I got was fantastic. Never before has my country been seen in this way.
As the RedCamera has never been used in Uganda before we faced a number of huge challenges when it came to post-production.

POST–PRODUCTION SOUND
At my small production studio we were able to cut the film. After the reshoot due to the lack of funds I lost my assistant editor and had to complete the whole edit at home in the evening while running my production business by day. This was a very tough time for me personally. In the end I worked faster and more efficiently rendering files overnight and taking them into the office in the mornings.  For the finer aspects of film editing I made a coproduction deal with a production house in Sweden called CinePost who just really loved the film and were willing to help. This came about because a producer (Jan Marnell, now Associate Producer of IMANI) who happened to be in Uganda watched a cut of IMANI and fell in love. On returning to Sweden he set up meeting that resulted in a great deal of post-production support. They were brought onboard to finish the cut ready for Berlinale the first film festival for IMANI.

MUSIC
I love music and I respect the importance it holds in any film narrative so I have spent a great deal of time making it the right score that complements the quality of the image in my film. Contemporary artists from both Uganda and Kenya have participated in making IMANI even more special. Artists such as Tshilla , Abramz and Sylverster, Chillum Woods and Maia Von Lekow were selected by me as I feel that they are IMANI translated into music. Contemporary music from East Africa.

I believe that we have discovered and nurtured talent on and off the screen and we have also increased the levels of film production skills in Uganda.
Most of the funding has currently come from iVAD productions (from meager profits over the last 5 years) with some support from The Global Film Initiative and in kind support from Cine Post Studios and Rodeorm Film.
We have already had quite a lot of interest from international festivals and after the launch internationally at film festivals all over the globe. IMANI will be released locally at cinemas, video halls and mobile units around Uganda.

DISTRIBUTION
We have a distributor in Sweden who is also very interested in IMANI.

THE AUDIENCE
This film has mass appeal but I am targeting an audience from around the globe male and female of the ages of 17 to 35.  The global MTV generation who are interested in learning more about the world outside. Most especially those who are interested in Africa and what the contemporary narrative drives African right now.

Ultimately IMANI is a refreshing look at my country post Idi Amin, post LRA (Lords Resistance Army), Uganda as it is today.

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