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.