CAROLINE KAMYA: IMANI
written by Sihle Mthembu
The multiple narrative film is the last frontier for Africa cinema, very few directors on the continent have done it and got it right, and most of those are not part of the current filmmaking generation. There is something about the standard set in film like 21grams and Crash that seems to elude African filmmakers. But this is something that has not seemed to bother Caroline Kamya. Her new film entitled Imani is easily one of the most important films of the new Ugandan film renaissance. The film tells the story of three people (a domestic worker, a dancer, and a child soldier) and their lives over a period of a day. Born in Uganda and having worked oversees a project like this must have been a challenge for a little know filmmaker like Kamya something she says she says was very evident d whilst putting the project together.
“There was very little available in terms of finance for the project so I had to save up and eventually the Swedish Film institute came and board and helped with some of the funding” says Kamya. Having been co-written with her sister Agnes, Imani was the brainchild of many years of Kamya being tired of working in London.
“The inspiration for the film was for me to show multiple worlds in the same space”, says Kamya “and I wanted to make a film that ordinary Africans can connect with on a day to day level” the resultant product is a gripping story that chronicles the ties that we all have with each other, but more over it shows the boldness of a young director ready to stake her claim in what very often is a polarized industry. It is a confident film. This however was not always the case for Kamya who acknowledges that having a low budget played a key part in having a better organized script and schedule. “when we had the first draft of the script it was good” says Kamya, “but the delay in finding the finance made us have a better plan and script to shoot with at the end” . What makes the film an even greater cinematic achievement is that the actors used as the principal cast are well not actors at all.
Kamya had gathered members of drama clubs from all over Uganda and auditioned and trained many of them during the films pre production phase. The resulting performances bare a naked truthfulness and authenticity that comes with lack of experience.
The film is clinically executed by people who have been directly affected by problems that the film’s subject matter deals with. “I was surprised with many of the performances I received, when I make films I like character driven pieces. For me characters are the story”, she adds. It’s no surprise that the film opened to critical acclaim at the Berlin Film festival and was even in competition at the 31st edition of the Durban international film festival. “I love the Durban Film this fest and I’m not just saying that now, this is a festival that really gives filmmakers a chance to network and watch great films and I hope people will come to appreciate my work as well” said Kamya “I also like the business model of the film, it incorporates every aspect of filmmaking something I think may other African film festivals don’t seem to do quite so well”. Despite having been a low budget film, Imani has fared well but above and beyond that it showcases Kamya as a key merging talent in Ugandan cinema.