I was talking to Herman on twitter, sharing notes on pet cacti when he asked if I was into short films and cinema in general to which I replied in the affirmative, I like to think of myself as a movie buff of sorts particularly with the horror genre, my absolute favorite. He mentioned there was a short film festival at the German cultural centre Goethe-Zentrum showing for 3 days. Naturally I was in; I’ve always wanted to film festivals but I’m just never in the know. That’s definitely changing now.

The Ngalabi film festival presented by Goethe-Zentrum and Maisha Film Lab boasted a catalogue of short films from all over Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Morocco, Ethiopia, and Tanzania as well as two short film programs from Germany and the U.K. This year is the 2nd edition of the festival, the main sponsor and partner being the British Council with the German Embassy also rendering their support.

Along with Ed and Ghile, we miraculously beat traffic arriving at the venue at about 6:40 just in time for screenings that started at 7pm.we bee lined for the rooftop paid the daily entrance fee of 5000ugx and in we were. First thing that greeted us was the fairly large crowd growing by the minute, so good attendance then and the free buffet. I’d wondered about snacks and stuff during the showings but had been so preoccupied by the day, I forgot to eat let alone grab Doritos at least so the pre cocktail was very much appreciated and Drinks were free till the screenings began. Grabbing our food, which was really tasty by the way, we got some good seats at the back and went about not really socializing, taking pictures and what not.

The festival kicked off with some opening remarks from the representatives of the British council and German embassy as well as a brief introduction of the organizers of the event. At 7:30pm, the screenings began. Friday’s premiere had 8 shorts ranging between 3 and 30 minutes with Q&A sessions with the directors schedules between breaks.

The First film was BLACK&WHITE directed by Ali Musoke from Uganda. Its central topic was Racism, the premise being a man inventing an A.I (Artificial Intelligence) software program capable of independent thinking to help him with his rather futile research about why racism exists let alone prevails. I appreciated the visuals and story line but beyond that, the film didn’t resonate with me, I wasn’t the only one.

The second movie, MTINDO from Kenyan director Ng’endo Mukuli was 3 minutes of what I imagine a bad acid trip (are there good ones though?)  would be like with its trippy colors and kaleidoscope imagery, that was incredibly lost on me as well.

The third movie was DIASPORADICAL TRILOGIA by Blitz Bazawule from Ghana was epic! It’s about a woman who mysteriously lived on three different continents at the same time. The visuals and film quality were very impressive, the soundtrack had me low key weaving, bopping and Shazaming the whole time, It was very well received and helped pick up what was a lukewarm start. The fourth movie was LAST BREATH; Jordan Braise Ndawula from Uganda’s film about a dying mother who gives her daughter a red balloon blown up with her last breath, the movie tackles loss and grieving. We then had our first break and Q&A session with movies 1and 4’s directors where they shared their inspiration, motives and directorial process.

The screening resumed with SAMAKI MCHANGANI (FISH OF THE LAND), the longest of the films at 30 minutes. Directed by Amil Shivji, the film centers on Godfrey who on the auspicious day he launches the first Tanzanian cellular company, gets into a fatal hit and run, and well, it’s all downhill from there. This movie was hilarious! It had me howling with laughter, awesome plot, really funny actors, the driver in particular, we’ve all in this life encountered drivers like. Also if I didn’t hate silver fish before, it’s on now!

At this point there were a few belligerent guys at the back, making a lot of noise, parroting the actors and just being downright annoying, it’s to be expected at any African gathering though, theres always at least 3, luckily they quieted down at some point and let the rest of us enjoy the show. You just can’t take some people anywhere can you?

HYMENNE directed by Violaine Bellet was the selection from Morocco. A man and woman alone on their wedding night, family members eagerly awaiting the wife’s blood stained wedding cloth. This was a good one, that husband was doing the most I tell you. It made me want to attend a Moroccan wedding. The celebrations looked fun, for the guests that is, man and wife, not so much as the struggle was real.

THE SURROGATE by Patricia Achiro Olwoch from Uganda tells a tale of a 28 year old Achan, considered to be too old to be unmarried and ridiculed for it who meets Frank at a bar, has a one night stand and gets pregnant, little did she know Frank is gay and was only being used by him and his boyfriend. Scorned for being pregnant out of wedlock it only worsens when her family finds out about Frank. Her mother did NOT cope well!

The final film of the night was THE BAD MEXICAN, a comedy directed by Loukman Ali, we see Kenneth a young Ugandan writer who has to get this job of a life time with his script so he can pay off a gangster loan shark, Boy was Kenneth having a really shitty day! I love when a comedy comes through for me; it was really funny and the perfect film to end the day.

With a Q&A with Patricia and Loukman, the day was done.Im glad I got to attend. Day one was well organized, the food great and the films did not disappoint. If you’re looking for something to get up to this weekend, may I suggest you hit up the joint, there are plenty more films showing over the next two days.

Ngalabi, it was real.X