20 September 2017

Uganda: Kony Film Tells the Other Side of the War

Kony: Order From Above was one of the most nominated films at the just-concluded Uganda Film festival (UFF) in Kampala.

Even when the film lost all the possible accolades to Devil's Chest, another film about the northern Uganda warlord, people have not stopped talking about it. In fact, some filmmakers believe the judges for the festival may not have watched the film and thus not giving it any accolade.

The film follows the life of a rebel who secretly tries protecting his lover after she is abducted and eventually turned into one of Kony's wives. Directed by Steven Anyeny, Kony: Order From Above is a breath of fresh air in an industry littered with Hollywood recycled storylines.

This film gets out of the box with the execution; from the topic that speaks to many Ugandans that have seen or read about Kony's terror, the film scores major marks.

But it is the delivery of the story that makes Kony: Order From Above outstanding. Mostly written in Acholi and Kiswahilli, the film manages to come off naturally from the actors who deliver many of the lines with the right emotions.

With a main theme of love, Anyeny manages to use his lead actor and actress to tell stories of captivity, forced marriages, occult and superstition in a take; from one shot to the next, we follow the lovebirds Otti and Agutti try to keep their love alive as well as stay alive.

The two lovers are caught in a conflict as they have to choose between duty and love. The male lead Otti was abducted at 11 years and later raised as a rebel; however, despite the hard situation, he has never forgotten about the love of his life, Agutti.

Through letters, he continues to track her, but tragedy strikes when rebels attack Agutti's school, taking all the girls. Upon arrival at the rebel camp, the abductees are paraded before Kony, whose interest falls upon Agutti without knowing of her relationship with Otti.

Otti has to pretend he does not know Agutti, even when she is directly placed under his watch in one of the camps. It becomes a tough choice between following his master and following his heart.

Things, however, change when Otti and Agutti secretly start seeing each other and eventually expect a child together. What follows is tension in the camp that forces them to look for a way out.

The film uses a big cast, most of whom are conversant not only with the language, but the story; they do a good job in giving the whole script a genuine feel and tell the story without struggling.

With the guiding hand of Michael Wawuyo Snr, the make up and costume department impresses especially when they have to create wound or scar effects. Besides the bad sound that seems to run throughout the film, Kony: Order From Above is a step up.

No wonder the film won this year's Best East African Film at the Zanzibar International Film festival.

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