From entertaining genres like comedy and action to award-winning dramas and satires, film exists in a variety of different forms and styles that reach audiences both nationally and internationally. Despite often being categorized according to content and thematic elements, all cinema is connected via one unifying concept, an idea best illustrated by Alejandro Conalez Inarritu when he stated that, “cinema is a mirror by which we often see ourselves.” Inarritu’s quote has begun to take on a new, more personal meaning as I delve further into the emerging cinema and entertainment industry present within Uganda, beginning with my recent experience at the Kampala National Theater while attending Uganda Cinema Night.
Walking into the theater I was able to appreciate its rich history before even watching the opening scene, from the evolution of the theater which began as a project intended to exist as the main component of the Uganda National Cultural Center, to its current title as the national theater, composed of over 400 seats and two levels for viewers from around Kampala. The film that began to play, entitled November Tear, is a Ugandan film written and directed by Richard Nondo that details the harsh realities that Anenda, played by Daphne Ampire, faces while away from her home. Having only spent a few weeks in Uganda, I easily recognized the more notorious places, including the Old Taxi Park; however, what struck me as even more familiar were the interactions among characters, the chaotic nature of the streets and restaurants, and the portrayal of Uganda’s lively capital city in comparison to that of the rural, agricultural outskirts of the city. Nondo was able to effectively utilize the story of Anenda’s struggles to depict the multi-faceted levels of Ugandan culture, both for a newcomer like me as well as for the Ugandan native to appreciate.
November Tear prevails not only as a cinematic depiction of one woman’s experience while in Kampala but as an example of the mirror previously described by Alejandro Conalez Inarritu. As an American citizen, I typically interact with cinema through the persona with whom I identify with at home, which is a female student attending her third year at University with a passion for traveling. However, as I was watching November Tear in the seats of the Uganda National Theater, I existed as an international traveler hoping to comprehend a completely different culture, people, and environment from my status quo. November Tear along with all of the other Ugandan films showcased during Uganda Cinema Night act as unique forms of expression through which to frame my time here in, providing creative avenues to understand my own experiences, all whilst participating in the director’s perception of Uganda.
For me, the best aspect of cinema is that it ceases to exist in one state; it is never static nor the same for everyone. Especially for adolescents and young people like myself, whose situations and realities never seem to stay the same, film is a medium that comprehensively reflects such dramatic yet personal change due to the individualized nature in which people encounter it. The completely Ugandan film lineup prepared for Uganda Cinema Night offers the ideal opportunity for audience members to experience how others perceive Uganda, as well as reflect upon how their own lives fit into the context of the films and themes presented to them.
Written by: Abby Gawrych
- * For me, the best aspect of cinema is that it ceases to exist in one state; it is never static nor the same for everyone. Especially for adolescents and young people like myself, whose situations and realities never seem to stay the same, film is a medium that comprehensively reflects such dramatic yet personal change due to the individualized nature in which people encounter it.