Saturday, June 11, 2016

Written, Produced & Directed In Uganda

Kalundi Robert Serumaga, was once director of The National Theatre – back in the late 90s if memory serves me correct. Then, he talked about the arts and how The National Theatre was underfunded, how the chairman of the board would commandeer the theatre van to use as his personal car and how government really doesn’t see arts and culture as something worth talking about – let alone given funding.

We too share the governments opinion. We would rather go to Blankets and Wine, Nile Gold Jazz at Serena or to polo at the Madhvani estate in Kakira than going to watch an Alex Mukulu play or going to an art exhibition by one of our talented artists. There is also a very good chance that when the documentary – Plan I is eventually premiered in Uganda it will hardly garner a crowd because we won’t see it as an apt society event.

Plan I is a documentary that I chanced upon which, took three years to make and was written, produced and directed by one of our own – AK Simba (below). To be honest, I had never heard of him and reading through his biography, for him to come from where he did and produce such a documentary, I have to applaud him.

Ak Simba it can be said, has literally come from a life in hell. In Uganda, he’s done everything dropping out of school to fend for his siblings when his parents passed on, taking on jobs in the construction industry to waiting in restaurants and vending CD’s and DVD’s on the streets. When he went to live in Belgium, life was even harsher that to make ends meet, he worked as a garbage collection man – a job that would have the whole of Kampala laughing and saying: “Eh, Ak Simba went abroad to collect muzungu rubbish. What a loser!” But it’s something Ak Simba is not embarrassed about because he mentions it in his short bio and even goes on to admit that he did like the job. 

Plan-I, is by no means a scripted reality, but narrates Ak Simba’s story.  The idea of Plan I came partially out of his self-pity, his levels of frustration and his near depression and which he has transformed into an eye-opening experience and into something positive - the need to share the story.

As such, this documentary approaches integration from various angles. Migrants from all corners of the world who now reside in Belgium get their say, whether they have just arrived or have already been living there for a longer while. But we also get to hear the experienced opinion of an integration counselor. Plan-I also brings us to Uganda where Ak Simba demonstrates the expectations of many of us who only dream of living a life in the glittery West. 

Ak Simba bursts the bubble filled with (des-) illusions about integration from the perspective of the migrants, as well as the natives. Coupled with his personal experiences as a migrant, Plan I discards all half-baked stories about migration and offers us a look into the often harsh reality of the integration process as it is.

Since Plan-I was finished, it has been submitted to various film festivals around the world and currently, it has been nominated for awards in at film festivals in Belgium and Germany. While Plan I is not yet available for public screening, between 3:00pm Saturday 11th June to midnight Sunday 12th June and exclusive to Sunday Vision readers, you have the chance to watch it by clicking onto this link - and the password is swampkamp. Plan I will feature at several film festivals in Europe, United States, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Australia and Japan

Pictures: New Vision, AK Simba

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