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[Movie Monday]: Going Back to Waka

Music Monday ditches her regular jams to support the Shanghai premiere of Uganda’s first action movie, Who Killed Captain Alex?.
Jun 15, 2015 | 15:36 Mon
Music Monday is a weekly SmartShanghai column, serving up songs from bands living and making music in China (or coming to China, or thinking about coming to China, or whatever). Copyright holders: if you would like your song removed, please contact us here, and we'll honor your request promptly.

Welcome to Monday my fellow pool party aficionados. June is in full swing and I can’t help but shudder at the thought of Shanghai’s expat population neglecting to embrace her rich history. Of course I’m speaking of Thaddeus Cornelius Wellington, who was the first expat to hold an official pool party at the infamous Astor House Hotel in the summer of 1895. We can all thank Thaddeus for the developed pool party culture that now thrives in our fare metropolis with swim up bars and endless house beats. While there continues to be multiple solid live and electronic music events in town I’m going to say nuts to that and instead showcase the most important event of the summer; answering the question “Who Killed Captain Alex?” Uganda’s first action movie officially premieres in Shanghai at Dada on Tuesday and it’s all that matters.

Speaking of film, there is also this networking event tonight at Beergrdn called "Stay In Character". Basically that's directors, producers, agents, screen writers, production crew members, amateurs, pros, and models hanging out and fucking. This all begins with the premiere of the short film Shanghai Story at 7pm, plus you've got Uratz Studios doing a cos-play show with The Predator and friends.

If you somehow still care about music after watching Tuesday’s life changing bit of cinema then make sure to check out this Swedish band showcase at Yuyintang on Friday with 3 solid acts. If it’s ho ho house music that you’re looking for then Hong Kong based Cliché Records is teaming up with Shanghai party crew Acid Pony Club to bring out producer Frats Wontank on Friday at URVC.

Now let’s get down to your new favorite movie genre, Ugandan Kung Fu Zombie Murder Mysteries made under the flag of "Wakaliwood". Nothing is off limits for the Wakaliga, the Uganda based Ramon Film Productions who incorporate slapstick violence, kung fu, white face, and special effects that make Michael Bay look like a preteen with a camera phone.

Wakaliwood’s story starts back in 2005 when Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey Nabwana decided to fulfill his childhood dream of making action movies from his village near the capital of Uganda. After over six years of making batshit crazy shorts and full length features with the support of his local community, it took a distraught New York middle aged actor / producer to start the process of exposing Wakaliwood to the world. In 2011, Alan Hofmanis had recently been dumped by his long-term girlfriend and was looking for cha cha cha changes. After watching a preview of Who Killed Captain Alex he flew to Uganda and eventually made contact with Nabwana forging a symbiotic relationship that four years later would lead them both into international fame (but most likely never fortune). Over the past few months media outlets such as Vice have been doing feature stories on the film company's Kickstarter campaign, which originally had a modest goal of 0 -- that being the average production budget for a Wakaliwood film.

Who Killed Captain Alex? – Original Trailer

My favorite part of this new Ugandan film craze is that it showcases the positive side of African communities, when too often Western documentary producers only show the shitty side of life. Uganda -- like much of the world -- has out of control warlords, LGBT rights violations, and mass poverty that needs attention. But if we don’t take the time and get to know the many pockets of contemporary creative music, film, and art outlets in these various countries, well, that’s just a dick move. Over the past decade there has been a land rush for finding and exposing the smaller creative scenes of the world like re-issue record label Analog Africa and Sublime Frequencies who back in 2011 signed Syrian vocalist Omar Souleyman. That exposure has lead Souleyman to play rock festivals and gain audiences that never would have known his sweet keyboard synth style even existed. Similarly, those recent Wakaliwood stories have lead to their films being shown in both larger film festivals along with small DIY premieres in countries like Latvia, Sweden, and now China.

D.I.Y. art is the only true form of expression and girl it doesn’t get any more Do It Yourself then the over 40 films produced by Nabwana with the help of his Wakaliga neighbors. After Nabwana lays down a movie script, the process of hand making props and teaching their children to be included as kung fu extras begins. Many of the early movies are lost, because of the necessity of recording over the second hand hard drives to make room for the next feature. This is just the beginning, as after the movie is finished they hand copy DVDs and that a network of sellers around Uganda slang, allowing thousands of locals to experience the magic of Wakaliwood.

The Kickstarter campaign that originally set a goal of 0 has recently provided the company with over 10,000USD in production funds and many ask if this new found money will spoil the films. No flipping way soldier. The money will simply allow Nabwana to continue his manifest destiny of building the strongest movie company in the world destroying Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood in one foul swoop. Just check out a preview of these fan submitted dying scenes for an upcoming Wakaliwood feature titled EBOLAAAALLAAAA!


Wakaliwood films are primarily in the local language of Luganda with English subtitles, but it doesn’t stop there. Layered on top of that you get to experience an MC throwing out random observations and jokes helping the plot along. Literally I will never watch a subtitled movie again without the addition of Nabwana's juvenile commentary adding that extra bit of razzmatazz to the story. All across Uganda during small public showings of Wakaliwood masterpieces you will have local funny men MC’ing a la Mystery Science Theater, creating an "immersive experience", as you millenials would put it. Tuesday’s Sub-Cinema version of Who Killed Captain Alex will have one of those MC overdubs with its own subtitles.

Make sure to show up early for Tuesday’s movie as Nabwana himself has prerecorded a special message just for Shanghai! Then stick around after because the Sub-Cinema crew will be recording a death scene to send back to Wakaliwood. Who knows you just may be the next biggest thing in Uganda! I’m going to leave you now with a little dance session from the mean streets of Wakaliga.

Michael Jackson visits Wakaliwood

Tune in next week with for a special “Throw Your Own Gig Guide” edition of Music Monday!


This column is written by DJ Sacco, who runs Uptown Records, Shanghai's dedicated vinyl shop. Ironically, they don't sell Mp3s or dabble in anything digital, instead they have 7" and 12", EPs and LPs from rock to electronic, rare pressings, DJ equipment and band merchandise. Find them in an old bomb shelter at 115 Pingwu Lu.


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