Focuses on a single day in the lives of three contempo Ugandas, with uneven results.

Caroline Kamya’s feature debut, “Imani,” focuses on a single day in the lives of three contempo Ugandans, with uneven results. Slick Red-One lensing, a pacy, heterogeneous score and two great perfs in the strongest strands sit side-by-side with an uninvolving, hoary third storyline involving a breakdancer (Philip Buyi) with a dark past. But given the scarcity of pics from Africa on the fest circuit, programmers won’t mind “Imani’s” just-OK batting average.

Strongest yarn recounts the difficult homecoming of a former child soldier (Stephen Ocen) in rural northern Uganda. Reworked from an uncredited pre-existing screenplay, this near-silent strand packs quite a punch thanks to its fully controlled, understated perfs and reliance on the power of the unspoken (almost destroyed by a superfluous explanatory scene at the end). Script, by the helmer’s sister, isn’t quite as strong or subtle for the two urban stories, though thesp Rehema Nanfuka, as a distressed maid in the second-best segment, impresses with her quiet sense of dignity. Cliche-ridden third storyline and several domestic-chore montages only pad out the already short running time. Kamya’s editing smoothly jumps between the otherwise unconnected stories.

Imani

Uganda

Production

An Ivad Intl. presentation and production, in association Cinepost Studios. (International sales: Ivad Intl., Kampala, Uganda.) Produced, directed, edited by Caroline Kamya. Screenplay, Agnes Nasozi Kamya.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Andrew Coppin; music, Ragnar Grippe; production designer, Vincho Nchogu; costume designers, Nchogu, Mugume Davidson; associate producer, Jan Marnell. Acholi, Luganda, English dialogue. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 11, 2010. Running time: 82 MIN.

With

Rehema Nanfuka, Philip Buyi, Stephen Ocen, Vincent Ochen, Paul Ssenyonga, Odong Sawiya, Ocaya James, Charlotte Bagaya, Joseph Pacutho, Brian Iyamuremye, Albert Kaddu, Dennis Josiah, Charles Mawejje, Nicholas Ojala, Pamela. E. Acaye.

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