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Ugandan Donald Mugisha Receives Largest Grant From World Cinema Fund To Finance Feature Inspired By "Bicycle Thieves"

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by Tambay A. Obenson
November 17, 2011 5:02 PM
5 Comments
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Congrats to Ugandan Donald Mugisha whose feature film project, The Boda Boda Thieves, was one of just 5 projects selected by the World Cinema Fund to receive production funding from its allotted $283,000 grant.

Donald's project, which he will direct, received the largest chunk of the fund - $81,000, as Norway based Switch Films has signed on to produce.

The film's synopsis reads:

When Goodman gets a job for his son Abel as driver of a motorbike taxi or “Boda-Boda”, he feels like things are possibly finally going his way, that is, until a gang of thieves robs Abel of his treasured motorbike. We follow Goodman and his son Abel on their quest through the city to find their “Boda Boda” and in the process gain an insider’s view of urban Africa, its underworld and the generation gap between urban migrants and their first generation children.

Sounds like a Ugandan take on the Italian neo-realist classic Bicycle Thieves, by Vittorio De Sica.

I'm in! :)

It's not entirely clear if Mugisha has all the money he needs to proceed with production, though, I should add that, in June of this year, he was also one of 10 African filmmakers invited to pitch their feature projects earlier this year, at the third Africa Produce Co-Production Forum as part of the 8th Tarifa African Film Festival (FCAT) in Spain.

I'm not certain what came of that pitch session, and if he received any funding from it.

I read that his budget is 390,000 Euros (about $525,000). Not sure how much of that is raised.

Regardless, it looks like Donald Mugisha is a name we'll be tracking closely from here on, as well as his feature film project, The Boda Boda Thieves, which I should note is actually his 3rd. I'm sorry to say that I'm not at all familiar with the man's work, so, as soon as I publish this entry, I'll be off to do some research; my findings, upon my return.

This could very be 2012/2013's Viva Riva - another film which benefited from international co-production resources (Congolese, French, Belgian and South African, funded by Canal Plus and Belgium’s Film Fund).

But watch this 12-minute interview with Donald done earlier this year at Tarifa, as he discussed his project, as well as filmmaking in his native Uganda, financing, distribution, and more. It's worth a look.

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5 Comments

  • Noxy Mavundla | November 19, 2011 6:56 AMReply

    Oh my word. Congratulations to you James and Donald. I'm so proud and happy for you guys. Wishing this film the best of success...it's already there. Keep up the momentum.

    James, I'll catch you at Rotterdam (hopefully we will both come back with something....)

  • James Tayler | November 19, 2011 2:18 AMReply

    Thanks for the encouragement - just a correction. Switch is a South African company and coproduced the previous two Yes! That's Us films with the Ugandan company Deddac. At Tarifa we secured a co-production deal with the Kenyan company Hot Sun Films. So the Boda Boda Thieves is a truly pan-African production.

    Best,

    James Tayler
    Executive Producer
    Switch (South Africa)

  • Tambay | November 19, 2011 11:14 AM

    Thank you for the updates James. Please keep me informed of your progress - obensont@gmail.com

  • Lawrence Bender | November 18, 2011 12:37 AMReply

    Switch films is a South African company. From the information that's public, he has raised over $100,000 so far.($10,000 from San Francisco based Global film innitiative and 10,000 euros from Rotterdam IFF's Hubert Bals Fund)

  • JAMES TAYLER | November 19, 2011 3:20 AM

    Thanks for your comment Lawrence - just to let you know that on top of the WCF and the other funds you mentioned the coproduction between Switch (South Africa) , Deddac (Ugandan) and Hot Sun(Kenya) secures 40% of our budget. We await the outcome of the remaining funders we have applied to and explore other options. We will publish press releases with updates soon. Please follow @yesthatsjames on twitter.

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