The empty auditorium at The Hub Nigerian filmmaker Kingsley Paul Ukaegbu is a bitter man after the premiere of his latest movie, See Through Me, all but flopped.
Thursday night's premiere at The Hub cinema in Kampala, Ukaegbu was
left cursing his gods as the highly- hyped film pulled less than 100
"What sort of country is this where people cannot pay Shs
50,000 to attend a movie premiere?" Ukaegbu lamented as he stared at
the empty auditorium. "I have never seen anything like this in my entire
20-year career. This is shameful to Uganda."
Ukaegbu, who now
says he will never return to the pearl of Africa, expected to bank on
the hot-cake Ugandan mood for Nigerian movies, only that he ignored
precedent. This was the second time the experienced filmmaker burnt his
fingers here. In January, he got a small audience as he premiered his
first collaborative film with Ugandans, Shadows of Fate.
on prostitution, the movie failed to impress Ugandans. He was, however,
lauded by female activists for addressing the plight of African women.
As a result, Ukaegbu promised to make his next project better. And true
to his word, he worked on See Through Me - employing almost the same
cast but shooting with the more superior Red Epic camera on a hefty
budget of $50,000 (about Shs 130m).
All odds seemed to favour
him. He had flown in Nollywood diva Yvonne Jegede to join her colleague
Clem Ohameze in the lead roles. The Ugandan team in the film included
Herbert Dembe, Ruth Nalubiri and Halima Namakula.
even predicted the movie would take Africa by storm. However, as the
premiere date neared, Ukaegbu started complaining that he had been let
down by some cast members who abandoned the movie due to poor pay - as
the filmmaker failed to attract any sponsorship. It is as if movie fans
saw through Ukaegbu: the seats were empty.
Scheduled to start at
5:30pm, the premiere was still waiting for the first guest by 7pm, when a
few fans started arriving. A distressed Ukaegbu was seen making frantic
calls and pondering on what to do next.
"I will never hold
another premiere in Uganda. I will be taking my films back to Nigeria
where people understand the value of cinema," Ukaegbu declared.
showy Nigerian, who has largely had a turbulent relationship with the
local film fraternity, then turned his guns on Ugandan media.
is a lot of mediocrity here. You people don't take film criticism
seriously," he fumed before turning down pleas from his cast to join
them for a photo shoot, saying he was in no mood to smile for the
He then lashed out at companies that refused to sponsor
his film. Human Rights Network (HURINET)-Uganda, Jomayi, Select Garments
and Hotel Africana were among the few organizations that gave him
Even upcoming artiste Captain Dolla
looked bored entertaining empty chairs with his Emmese hit, shortly
before the film hit the screen at about 8:30pm. But See Through Me is no
It tells an emotional story of an orphaned
teenage girl, Maggie (Jegede), who is forced to marry an elderly and
violent man (Ohameze) after he had raped and impregnated her. The
abusive marriage forced her onto the street where she ended up a
Ukaegbu's only consolation was that the Nigerian
community, which made up the bigger part of the small audience, bought a
few DVDs at very high prices. Over Shs 15m was made in the auction.Kingsley Paul Ukaegbu