Thursday, May 23

Once Upon a Time in Uganda – Hot Docs 2022

Once Upon a Time in Uganda

Once Upon a Time in Uganda – Hot Docs 2022

A brick maker in Uganda becomes an Internet sensation when he tries his hand at making action movies.

The rise of Wakaliwood is documented in Once Upon a Time in Uganda. Living in Wakaliga, the slum of the Ugandan capital city of Kampala, brickmaker Isaac Nabwana has started to develop a following for the ultra-low budget action films he has produced for his company Ramon Film Productions. When the trailer for Isaac’s film Who Killed Captain Alex? becomes a hit on YouTube, it attracts the attention of New Yorker Alan Hofmanis, who decides to pack up and move to Uganda to help bring Wakaliwood to the world. However, when Issac’s filmmaking starts to gain attention from the local Ugandan government, it begins to cause a strain on his relationship with Alan.

Once Upon a Time in Uganda is a documentary directed by Cathryne Czubek and Hugo Perez, which covers the history of Wakaliwood from Alan Hofmanis’ arrival in Uganda in 2012, on time to be cast in a supporting role in Isaac Nabwana’s Bad Black, to the triumphant premiere of Crazy World as the closing film of Midnight Madness at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. The film focuses primarily on the relationship between Alan and Issac, which go through many ups and downs over the course of the film.

Featuring many familiar Wakaliwood flourishes, such as an opening narration by VJ Emmie, Once Upon a Time in Uganda is an incredibly entertaining documentary that serves as both an introduction to Wakaliwood for newcomers, while also a satisfying watch for longtime fans. It is also incredibly surreal that the documentary’s big climactic moment centres around the Toronto Midnight Madness screening of Crazy World, which was a screening I was in attendance at. Altogether, Once Upon A Time in Uganda is recommended for all supporters of independent DIY cinema.

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Trailer for Once Upon a Time in Uganda – Hot Docs 2022

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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