Thursday, 8 December 2016

Divizionz

Divizionz; drama, Uganda / South Africa, 2008; D: Donald Mugisha, James Tayler, S: Mark Bugembe, Patrick Katsigire, Catherine Nakyanzi, Bonny Olem, Kyagulanyi Ssentamu

Kapo is a young lad living in a slump in Uganda. Together with a girl, Kanyankole, and a friend, Mulokole, he plans to become team of musicians, and already has a gig in a disco club in the capital, Kampala. Out of sympathy, he calls in Bana, a limp guy with a crutch, in the team, despite Kanyankole and Mulokole objecting because Bana has a criminal record. Kapo gives 2,000 shilling to Bana so that he can buy a CD on which they can record their music in a store. However, when they were returning home, they get attacked by criminals who steal their money. Bana disappears, and the CD with him. Kanyankole has an epileptic attack, but Kapo and Mulokole decide to take a bus to Kampala anyway. In the disco club, they find out that Bana cancelled their gig and instead used the CD to perform himself, all alone. Bana becomes an influential singer, but gets attacked by a rival.

The Ugandan 'guerilla' filmmaking movement YES! THAT'S US delivered a contemporary independent drama film, "Divizionz", which explores the ever relevant topic of people trying to escape from poverty and make it big, in this edition by becoming musicians in the big city, equipped with all the motives that come with it, from loyalty to betrayal. Directed in a very realistic way that depicts the slums of Uganda, yet also in a very elegant and energetic manner that avoids any kind of sentimentality or too depressive excess, the film has its rhythm, though it still seems unsure and 'rudimentary' in several of its cinematic techniques and movie language. For instance, when the hero gets into the bus for Kampala, there is a quadruple split screen which serves no purpose, since the other passengers are not part of the story and talk about irrelevant things like how one of them got pregnant with a guy who avoids seeing the child. The only exception is the well done, poetic scene of Kanyankole having an epileptic attack, where she is lying on the floor surrounded by a completely white background, symbolising how she is 'detached' from the world in a moment. The dialogues are also banal, not managing to add more spice, ingenuity or humor in the otherwise rather straight-forward storyline. Still, the film proves to be unpredictable at least on some level (avoiding political correctness, the disabled guy with a crutch proves to be the main villain) and has very good actors, which make the story, though overlong, still seem good enough to work as a glimpse inside that part of the world.

Grade;++

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