Donald Mugisha: 'I prefer digital filming because of the style'

September 2008 -

Donald Mugisha has long dreamed of becoming a film maker. "At home I put video software on our computer and made home movies with our camcorder. I never finished my mass communications study. I wanted to film. A number of my friends were also studying but really wanted to be artists. Together we set up the Yes! That's Us collective. We made experimental films and video clips, and developed our own concept and style."


Still from Divizionz by Donald Mugisha

In 2007 Mugisha made his first – digital – full-length film together with Yes! That's Us: Divizionz. It played early in the Netherlands early in September 2008 at the Africa in the Picture film festival. In Divizionz, Mugisha portrays the class separation in Kampala, Uganda's capitol. "My films comment on social phenomena in Uganda. It is not my intention to preach, but I do want to get people thinking. Artists hold a mirror up to society."

Mugisha is not troubled by the strict censure in Uganda. "Although you never know in advance what might happen. What really makes it difficult to produce a film is the government's lack of interest. Culture is unimportant and there is no budget available for it. What culture we have is American. People want amusement and lovely stories. The truth is often simply too painful. We do want to show the truth, but also entertain people by playing with it."

Mugisha made Divizionz first and foremost for the people of Uganda. "It has been shown throughout the country. Even in video halls: small rooms in which video films are shown on a television screen throughout the day. I only submitted Divizionz to the Berlin film festival after that. Berlin triggered other international contacts." In his own view, Mugisha is now able to make full-length films thanks to the existence of digital film. "That revolutionised the film world. It is affordable and simple: just take a camera and start shooting. It has brought a new style: one that is critical and realistic, and that has a specific tempo. It is not only because of the money that I prefer digital filming: it is because of the style."

Donald Mugisha was present at Africa in the Picture 2008. Africa in the Picture is supported by the Hivos NCDO Culture Fund.