When Loukman Ali shot and availed his short film, The Blind Date, film and art lovers had nothing short of praise for the filmmaker’s craft. It was not an easy job for the most bitter critics neither because well, it takes heart to write off a piece of art the first son himself gave a nod on Twitter.
Fast forward, social media has been up and buzzing yet again in celebration of good Ugandan cinema. Loukman Ali has not only done it again but he has undoubtedly pushed the envelope for what can be achieved with a camera on the Ugandan landscape.
His new short film 16 rounds is a 38-minute thriller revolving around two jilted lovers (Michael Wawuuyo and Natasha Sinayobye) who go back and forth in a dangerous tango of crime, tragedy, and betrayal from both ends in a plot punctuated by red herrings and cliffhangers.
Loukman on this project embodies the truth of the gold is in the detail. Before I watched the movie, I scrolled through social media to run through the consumer feedback and one fan stated that Loukman’s content is Netflix-worthy. I am shy to admit that I had my doubts but after 38 minutes and a bag of popcorn, I concur.
The cast outdid itself. The main characters on which the movie revolves are Natasha Sinayobye and Michael Wawuuyo Jr who have starred together before in other films such as Nana Kagga’s Beneath the Lies. The chemistry between both parties is something one can only experience while watching the movie.
However, Michael Wawuuyo Jr stands out for excelling exceedingly. Having worked with Loukman before on previous efforts such as The Blind Date, one can take a wild guess and assume that the chemistry between actor and director keeps growing by the day.
Wawuuyo’s portrayal of a psychotic ex-militia turned cop, known in the film as Captain Damba is something of a fantasy. When compared to his previous roles in other Loukman films, he brought his A-game. One can notice the work he put in to chisel up and get leaner to accurately depict the cold, pristine, and tip-top image of an ex-militia. Wawuuyo gets an A-plus for excellence.
Loukman Ali takes credit yet again for his efforts to collaborate with the finest. Besides enlisting a stellar cast, sound maestro Steve Jean is listed in the credits and it is not shocking that the scoring in the film is breathtaking.
Art is a mirror of society and what other way to mirror a Ugandan atmosphere than the inclusion of Fred Masagazi’s classic, Alululu. When Sinayobye welcomes her lover that is yet to be maimed into the home, the accurate timing for the Canaan gents and Kenneth Mugabi supported Kyekunkuna trickles into the scene like magic. The music alone leaves one awed at what much more can be achieved in the world of Ugandan cinema. The music and soundtracks in this film are again, Netflix-worthy.
As much as Loukman has offered a masterclass in set design, camera angles, color grading, and a vast number of things cinema, yet is more to be achieved but most importantly, by the consumers.
One is disturbed to know that a great fete of our own cinema such as Loukman’s previous film, The Blind Date has garnered only 24,000 YouTube views yet much more mediocre visuals have garnered millions.
Loukman, can somewhat be compared to Nigerian great Clarence Peters who just like Loukman has mastered the art of working with tight budgets, scenes and bringing the best out of characters while on set.
Clarence has been acknowledged by a Nigerian Vice President before and for Loukman’s case and efforts, we could probably as well acknowledge that it is not only the athletes that can bring in the gold or even wave our flag up high.