Somebody Clap For Me from Brazilian director Luciana Farah, will have its world premiere at the 20th edition of the Zanzibar International Film Festival taking place July 8 to 16, 2017.
A rollercoaster ride from grassroots poetry to the political heart of Uganda, this captivating labour of love provides a fascinating window into life in a country in which three-quarters of the population is under 25. Linking Uganda’s oral tradition to its 21st Century culture of hip-hop and slam poetry, the film brings its protagonists to the fore, providing a constantly shifting portrait of a Kampala-based youth movement that uses spoken word to challenge the oppressive restraints of Ugandan society and the increasing constraints on freedom of speech under current president Yoweri Museveni.
As Farah chronicles the resurfacing of village bonfire storytelling traditions in the form of open-mic poetry events, we meet some of the scene’s key actors, including Roshan, a mixed race Ugandan who has grown up in the UK, Ugly Emcee, a freedom-of-speech activist who reveals himself to be the grandson of Idi Amin, and Medals the Born Again Politician, who challenges the status quo with both his conviction and command of political pastiche.
The film, which was shot over the course of three years with a crew of East African film students, follows these and other poets as they go about their daily lives in Kampala, the eclectic individual portraits building to form a cross-sectional vision of a country trying to shed its past and create a more inclusive and democratic reality, despite the conservative forces that are attempting to hold on to power.
What begins as a documentary about a grassroots poetry collective, twists and turns unpredictably as it takes viewers into the political and cultural heart of contemporary Uganda. Fuelled by the universal themes of love and identity and made using unconventional filmmaking techniques, Somebody Clap for Me was produced with the support of Maisha Film Lab and the Doha Film Institute.
“I am extremely happy for Somebody Clap for Me to be premiering at ZIFF,” said Farah. “The festival has a long history of supporting independent African cinema and it is fitting that the film will receive its first public screening at one of Africa’s leading film festivals.”