The Observer (Kampala)

29 November 2012

Uganda: Beauty to Wither Into Ashes At National Theatre

Talk of a shocking upcoming Ugandan movie about HIV/Aids has been around for some time now, keeping local film fans on their toes. See, many of the local films that have tried to address the deadly scourge, which has ravaged the country for the last thirty years, have left little to be desired.

The 2006 Uganda-Nigeria collabo, Roses in the Rain, was particularly panned by pundits for lazy scripting and weak acting. But word from the grapevine has been that the mystery movie, Beauty to Ashes is one of a kind. And the time has come to prove the hype.

The TriVision Production film, whose plot chronicles a large group of urbanite youths living on a sexual network, today makes its premiere at the National Theatre.There will also be screenings throughout the weekend to coincide with the World Aids day celebrations.

"We believe this film is a wake-up call for anyone who watches it," director Irene Kulabako Kakembo says of her film which echoes themes of promiscuity, cross-generational sex, parental negligence and corruption.

And basing on the trailer, it seems Beauty to Ashes is a masterpiece. Its captivating storyline is told through a naïve teenage girl, Suzan (played by Brenda Awor) who falls in love with a city loverman (Patriko Mujuka).

As events unfold, it is revealed Suzan was born with the incurable HIV/Aids virus, which she has generously distributed to hundreds of people through the broad sexual network. The story is somewhat chilling as you helplessly watch lives waste away.

The movie, whose production and eventual release had been pending for over two years until several organizations footed its Shs 11m budget, was penned by Billy Ashaba of the State Research Bureau (SRB) fame.

The manner in which Kulabako directs a largely untested cast to success deserves a standing ovation. Shabba Serunkuuma, Ben Mwiine and Monica Birwinyo are part of the fresh cast.

Today's screening, however, is only open to invited guests unlike the weekend. Entrance is free but you are supposed to present a ticket at National Theatre. There will also be free HIV/Aids testing. Gates open at 2pm.

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