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Conduct research about international film festivals, German expert urges Ugandans

by Editorial Team
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By Hussein Kiganda

A German expert has advised Ugandan filmmakers to carry out research about the festivals to which they submit their movies.

Axel Estein, a film festival organiser, made the remarks while attending the film club sessions at the National Theatre on Tuesday, May 17.

“Different festivals have different targets. Before you submit your film to any of them, find out what the organisers are looking for; the theme, policies, and the submission procedures,” he said.

“Even if you submit your film to 50 festivals, but it doesn’t fall in the festivals’ themes, it will not qualify.”

Estein, who is also a festival programmer and film journalist, noted that most international festivals look out for unique stories.

“There are things that festival organisers look out for in a film even after nomination, the unique features such as local languages, powerful emotions, and other technicalities.”

Estein, who is based in the Philippines, however, warned that “if one uses an indigenous language, subtitles should be provided in English or in the language where the festival will be held.”

“And when you submit your film for screening, make sure you watermark it with a notice, saying it is for screening purposes and majorly for that specific festival.”

Estein advised filmmakers to reflect on the day-to-day events in the nation, to tell the world about what’s happening. He reminded them of the Philippines’ history 20 years ago.

“It is always better to always tell stories from your own country than copying from the international space. Make films that are connected to the lives of the locals so that you can have something unique to tell the world. The Philippines industry was not as good as it is now 20 years ago. When they started showing what the locals were experiencing, they caught the attention of the international scene.”

The German advised Ugandan festival organisers to put up festivals that showcase Ugandan culture and are beneficial to the Ugandan film industry.

“Put up festivals that will benefit directors, and attract international market and sponsors. They should be true to culture and production. And to attract the local market, start by teaching children about film at an early age, establish film clubs in all parts of the country, involving the media and establish distribution points,” he advised.

In Uganda, the most popular festival is the Uganda Film Festival, which is organised by the Uganda Communications Commission.

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