The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: PIFF Submissions Open

Submissions to the third annual Pearl International Film festival (PIFF) have opened in high gear with festival bosses promising a dazzling show.

PIFF is considered one of the biggest film events in Uganda, boasting a mix of local and international movies plus a range of other activities which take place throughout the week-long fest. The previous festivals took the nation by storm by showcasing and awarding some of the finest film talents in Uganda and Africa. Local film buffs have hence impatiently waited for this year's fete.

"We opened our submissions last week and by far the number of entries is overwhelming," festival director Moses Magezi has told us. "We will close the submissions in the third week of March."

This year's submission forms are free unlike in the previous festivals, where they sold for Shs 20,000. The forms can be accessed online or picked from National Theatre, Uganda Federation of Movie Industry (UFMI) offices and Hills Jamo Videography at Majestic Plaza.

"We will also involve upcountry radio stations and other media to reach out to all Ugandan filmmakers," Magezi said, explaining the festival is only open to movies released since April 2012 to date.

PIFF is known to attract hundreds of film submissions, out of which only about 50 are selected to participate. But the festival is perhaps most famed for its glamorous awards' night. The last edition had 24 awards categories, up from the debut's 14.

"We have added four new categories including Best Foreign Film, Best Educative Film and Best Film School," Magezi said, calling upon companies to support the festival which has consistently struggled with finances.

The Observer's Abu-Baker Mulumba won last year's award for Best Media Personality. But the night left a sour taste with some people accusing judges of incompetence. There were speculations that some winners were handpicked.

And Magezi acknowledges the mishap. "I can guarantee that we will have the most transparent selection and voting processes this year. All our judges will be people of high integrity and knowledge of film."

With this assurance, Ugandans should be looking forward to the May 14-18 fest whose main venues are National Theatre and Theatre La Bonita.

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