Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Uganda in Major Hollywood Movie

Shell shocked-Ibanda acting (from his FB page)
How often, after 2 am in the morning, does a movie make you sit bolt up right? Shocked, thrilled, barely able to contain yourself! Texting people phone messages with more exclamation marks than full stops? !!! that do not even begin to express the energy coursing through you because of what you are watching on the screen before you, replaying it over to make sure you have really seen what you think you saw? 

I came close, I suspect, on Saturday morning, to knowing what a broke-as-hell, always frequenting Majestic Plaza musician looking for his or her break feels the first time-perhaps in a taxi, seated at the back, lost in thought, realises a radio station blaring in the taxi is playing their song for the very first time. With a suppressed whoop of delight, barely able to hold it together because...that’s my song! That’s my song...that’s me...that’s on the radio...they are playing my song

I came close to that and I wasn’t even watching something of mine. I was watching something of all of us-Ugandans. In a Hollywood movie, no small, Indie art for DVD store movie either, was Uganda! A clip of Uganda and it was being presented by Ugandans I have met; Ugandans I know-two of them actually can be found at the Uganda National Theatre on many days of the week. A clip of a movie they had acted in, was being talked about by huge Hollywood actresses in one of the best movies of 2010, The Kids Are Alright. 

Can you understand my first whoop of delight? 

Ibanda is an acting and dancing talent
The movie clip that came on, and that Annette Bening and Julianne Moore’s characters in The Kids Are Alright that were discussing, was from a little known (to Ugandans at least, sadly. More embarrasingly, I can't even link the movie because it does not seem to have a working website online!) movie that recreated some of the harrowing experiences tourists visiting Uganda went through when they were abducted by fleeing Interahamwe rebels on their way into the Congo. At the time musician Yoyo lent me his copy of the movie to watch, it was titled Kidnapped though he warned me the title might change. In The Kids Are Alright, this movie was being referred to as Locked Up Abroad. 

Never mind! 

The clip Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are watching on their player late in the night lasts about two minutes. But what two blazing minutes!!! 

In the clip of this movie set in Uganda selected, Samuel Prince Ibanda is a crazed rebel leader’s lieutenant who is shouting at a terrified tourist, “You want to die? You want to die?!” Almost poking out that tourist’s eye with the edge of a very scary looking long knife that you know Ibanda’s character does not keep just for slicing open fruit he picks in the forest they trudge through. 

It is worth getting The Kids Are Alright simply to watch the effect of that clip that places Uganda on a global stage in a way it has not had a chance to be since The Last King of Scotland.
In this movie Yoyo and Samuel Ibanda, as the dreaded Interahamwe rebels, shone. Really shone! The clip in The Kids Are Alright brought it all crashing back to me just how good they had been. 
Staring down the devil-from Yoyo's FB page

Unfortunately there is an unfortunately... While watching this clip, Nic (Annette Bening) casually tells Jules (Julianne Moore), “Remind me never to take the kids to Morocco or Uganda.” Unspoken is the elephant in the room generalisation...because in Africa scary rebels are waiting behind every clump of bush to kidnap Americans...anyone white...(Uganda is not like that, really). 

FULL DISCLOSURE: If you are not comfortable with the depiction of lesbian love in art, in movies, The Kids Are Alright is not for you. There is lots of sex!


The 27th Comrade said...

I am more-forgiving on lesbians than on any other configuration … If had not used up my movies quota yet, I would watch. I guess I will watch it sometime next year. :o)

The 27th Comrade said...

Actually, now that I have seen the trailer, I cannot help thinking it is all one rather drawn-out propaganda piece for the Western take on moral priors (as is the case with all movies, anyway; but this one goes a little far). And those are outside of my quota, even when I still have a movie allowance. I guess I will pass up.

(Also, enough of these and their morals-numbing effect, and we will all be protesting for homosexual marriages in a few months. It is how traditions and cultures change. That’s sad, but decadence has always been humanity’s destination.)

Iwaya said...

27th-you have a movies quota?! How does that work? Really, I want to know...

About the morals, and view point it is propagating, well, of course it would have to be an American liberal agenda, the movie makers are!

I had an interesting chat with a friend who is currently travelling through Asia, and he is gob-smacked at just how rich and 'more civilised' is Asian culture and how close it is to African culture when it comes to philosophy and ways of looking at the world...that we ended up discussing about how 'finished' Western civilization seems to be, and currently is in search of something it has lost. This movie brings it all back, that discussion.

The 27th Comrade said...

Yeah, I decided I had had enough of American movies for now, so I do not know when I will lift the ban—likely next year—and even then, it would be older movies, and action-y types, none of this romantic story bullshit. Certainly none of this sex-crazed nonsense that passes for movies these days.

The real trouble for the Asians is that they have lost their souls to gain the World. This self-same “being civilised” is the problem; because you have to lose community before you all flock into skyscrapers, and to lose earthy, organic food before you all flock to supermarkets, and to lose motherhood before you have big double-incomes, and to lose childhood and child play before you have satellite TV with 25 kids’ channels, and to lose morals before you have IMAX theatres that have movies the minute they premier, and to lose family before people have happy models on TV who are doing their sixth divorce and are happy about it, and to lose tangible friendships before everybody is on Facebook with thousands of “friends”, and so on and so forth. This “being civilised” is often a sad place-holder for “being Westernised”, whether we like that or not, and it does rot the soul of a people (even as it gives them the World, no doubt). I see Rwanda headed that way, at high speed, because it is eager to be called “civilised” and “developed” by these Westerners (or, at least, by their standards).

Until recently, the Westerners also thought like we did. But pop culture destroys everything. Until the ‘80s, there were places in Europe where homosexuality was illegal. In under a generation, they are marrying men. Then again, if we could remain good as humans—if decadence was not so certain—Jesus would be useless.

Kaz Kasozi said...

I saw the clip mentioned but i must say I wasn't as delighted exactly because of the comment the character makes at the end of said clip.

This shows me two things; one of generalisations which you mention and another of the fact that they actually perhaps don't really respect the work and simply chose it to forward their preconcieved ideas about countries such as Uganda. Its insulting if anything!

Nice blog by the way.