Veronica’s Wish, a film that chronicles a woman’s journey to her forever-after even with a deadly disease ravaging her body, was the top winning film at this year’s Uganda Film Festival awards held at the Serena Hotel last Friday.

The festival had been going on for a week with screenings happening in cinemas in Entebbe, Nalya and Kampala; the free screenings mostly exhibited the films that had been submitted in the festival and were in competition for different awards.

Over the years, the award gala has always been that one thing people look out for since they always give people a chance to have their films seen by a general audience that barely accesses the films as well as the publicity the awards come with.

Since its premiere a few weeks back, Veronica’s Wish was thought to be a frontrunner, thanks to the fact that it is enjoyable and serves a perfect love story.

The film won Best Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound, Best Production Design, Best Editing and Best Feature Film. It also scooped the Best Director award, making Rehema Nanfuka the first female to win the accolade.

Other winners of the night included Stella Nantumbwe (Best Supporting Actress) for her role as a prostitute in Matt Bish’s Bella, Courtinho Kemiyondo’s short film Kyenvu took home Best Short Film while former Ebonies actors Simon Base Kalema and Raymond Rushabiro walked away with Best Supporting and Best Actor accolades, respectively.

Veteran actor Abby Mukiibi walked away with the Life Time Achievement Award for his contributions towards drama for almost twenty years.

Veronicas Wish dominates Uganda Film Festival2Unlike the past years, the festival this year was delayed due to a number of commitments by UCC, which had immediately forced many to believe the festival was not going to happen.

As it is a norm in the past years, the festival kicked off with workshops and an exhibition that was hosted at Muganzirwaza plaza in Katwe. Much as these exhibitions are meant to bring the filmmaking process and films to a general audience, there is a belief among industry players that the venue is wrong.

Some have argued for instance that the venue is not accessible and believe the intended audience never gets to know what such exhibitions are always about.

To improve on the festival engagement, this year organisers introduced open space screenings that took place in areas like Kalerwe Market, Nansana and Kamwokya.

And of course, introducing the Viewers’ Choice Award where the audience picks their own winner; in international festivals, this is always the most important award since rarely does it have nominees.

At Toronto for instance, many winners of the Audience’s Choice have gone on to win the Best Picture accolade at the Oscars. It was with such background that the category was highly anticipated.

However, the voting system that made Richard Mulindwa’s 94 Terror win did not convince many.

“It is a good award but if UCC knows a cinema sits 100 people and they print 200 voting ballots, that is already giving some films a chance to cheat,” said one of the people at the screening seeking for regulations in the future.

This year’s festival came after Uganda has enjoyed some remarkable international success as far as film is concerned. For instance, The Forbidden, one of the nominated films has in the past won Best East African film at the Zanzibar International Film Festival and has been nominated in award shows in Ghana and Nigeria.