Uganda’s film industry under the umbrella body PearlWood in different capacities has nothing but praise MTN Uganda after it debuted a solution to the industry’s challenge of marketing. The solution was to launch a Kibanda Xpress, a Video on Demand (VOD) channel that exclusively shows Uganda films and movies on the YoTV Channels app.
While lauding the telco, some actresses words could not do justice to the picture of enormous happiness they were feeling. Young and Cheerful Sheebah Eva Mwanganje, a film actress from Fly Films production says she is now empowered to act even more movies as the MTN Kibanda Xpress breeds certainty of movie consumption and demand to the industry.
“It gives us energy that someone out there is watching our content. It also gives us the ability to improve where we have been falling short. People should watch it because it will help both us and the viewers,” she explains.
The Ugandan film industry had always faced marketing distribution challenges, thus the Association of Core Film Producers Uganda Limited (trading as PearlWood) reached out to telecommunication firm, MTN Uganda for help. For MTN Uganda accepting the partnership, the film industry will not suffer with huge investment costs as the telco shoulders the marketing costs which comprise 60 percent of film production.
Seasoned film producer and speaker on the Pearlwood board of directors, Mzee Bwanika Julius, lauded the telco for stepping in, who explained that, “We went to MTN because we wanted a company that really matters, a company that was not going to look at our status quo because we are nothing at the moment. We wanted a company that would look at our big dream, and our possibilities, and that was MTN.”
MTN Kibanda Xpress impact to film students
The impact of MTN Kibanda Xpress spreads as far as the young and aspiring film students in film school to whom the introduction of Kibanda Xpress is an even stronger affirmation that they have a bright future after education.
Jovia Nalujja, a third year student pursuing a bachelor’s degree of Arts in drama and film who also part times as an actress in local films predicts that the channel will register tremendous success in the country.
“In school, you are taught how to become film makers, writers and actresses but there is a challenge of distributing our work. With Kibanda Xpress, as students we now have hope that our work will be recognized,” she affirms.
MTN Uganda believes there are immense possibilities for Uganda’s film industry to soar to greater heights beyond the country’s borders. The CMO at the telco, Mr. Somdev Sen says that MTN created Kibanda Xpress with the aim of harnessing the impact and possibility of Uganda’s local content through the movie industry.
“We believe that we need to promote Ugandan content because at the end of the day. Why can’t we build Netflix for Uganda, so for us Kibanda Xpress is Netflix for Uganda so be it actresses, viewers or MTN being part of the telecom space, we wanted to do this together,” Sen said.
Uganda’s film industry employs thousands of people especially the youth but has only started to receive significant recognition especially around the world.
The international recognition is partly as a result of promotion and improvement in quality of movies which is in part hinged on initiatives such as the Uganda Film festival spearheaded by sector regulator Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in partnership with MTN Uganda.
UCC has most recently concluded the eight edition of the Uganda Film festival where multiple Ugandans received recognition for their works across different categories.
Ibrahim Bosa, the spokesperson UCC says the film festival for the last seven years has culminated into a mammoth benefits for the industry.
“In 2013, we did not have many Ugandan films competing abroad but today we have hundreds of local movies being presented. We have given a platform for films to compete here; they have won accolades and have got screenings locally, regionally and internationally,” he said while appearing before a television interview recently.
During the festival, MTN’s chief marketing officer while handing over Shs70m contribution at the awards ceremony reaffirmed MTN’s commitment to promote the local film industry.
He said Uganda is home for MTN and as such is committed to boost the country’s local movie industry.