One of my most treasured moments was experiencing my first exposure to Wakaliwood. It was during one of several attendances at Austin’s Fantastic Fests. I sat through what would typically be another low-budget action film with lousy action sequences, barely acceptable acting, and a plot that would put most Hollywood movies to shame. That experience was Bad Black.
Now, ordinarily, I would feel annoyance and frustration with such a type of movie, but considering the background of such a film reveals a more exciting and entertaining experience to be had by American audiences. Bad Black is a product from the third-world country of Uganda. In this very impoverished nation, filmmaker Nabwana I.G.G., aka Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey Nabwana, makes action movies by the skin of his teeth and through his creativity and ingenuity, as inspired by Hollywood action fare. If one had the complete picture of how Wakaliwood’s movies get made and shared, people would understand why these films are so inspirational. This documentary by director Cathryne Czubek reveals the bare-bones process of how Uganda’s most notable filmmaker makes the magic happen.
To give more context, Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey Nabwana has barely scratched a living-out brick-making in his Uganda village of Wakaligo, an impoverished and struggling environment with limited resources. Isaac, a fan of cinema, aspires to be a massive, successful filmmaker of action cinema and is willing to do what it takes to make his mark. Struggling American actor Alan Hofmanis happens to discover this environment and hopes to share his exciting experiences with the world.
Once Alan gets involved in Wakaliwood’s filmmaking process and sees the results of Isaac’s exciting work, he hopes to expand Wakaliwood’s exposure to the world at large. However, he realizes the limitations that Isaac faces and often butts heads with the filmmaker to see the success of this scene expand beyond its humble beginnings.
I loved this documentary as someone who is already a fan of the Wakaliwood experience. I felt the same joy and passion for this remarkably new and ambitious take on cinema. Anyone who has witnessed the magic behind Wakaliwood already knows and appreciates what this low-budget filmmaker has to offer. And it is these people who will further appreciate the work and challenges these Ugandan filmmakers endure to make this entertaining cinema happen.