Film + Reception / Admission is Free
In Person: Filmmakers Ben Barenholtz and Long Island native Alan Hofmanis
Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey (I.G.G.) Nabwana is a loving husband and father who produces, directs, and edits feature films, mainly action, from his home in the slums of Wakaliga, Uganda.
There are few resources for filmmakers in Uganda. Out of necessity, Isaac Nabwana founded Ramon Film Productions, a team of nearly 100 actors, filmmakers, and technicians – all volunteers – dedicating to building an independent film industry (Ramon takes its name from the three most influential women in Isaac’s life, his maternal grandmother and eldest daughter, each named Rachel, and Monica, Isaac’s paternal grandmother). Filmmaking is difficult in any environment, but life in a slum presents unique challenges including illiteracy, disease, and a struggle for basic utilities such as electricity and the internet.
As in the early days of Hollywood, the team members must build all their own equipment and rely on ingenuity and available materials. For example, their tripod is a modified car jack and props are typically welded from scrap metal and used car parts. The computer used for editing, sound mixing, and special effects is built by Isaac and constantly overheats in the Ugandan climate. Isaac’s video camera has a busted viewfinder and the only battery is held together with string.
Cast and crew keep a share of the DVDs they sell at street corners and the local markets. Complicating matters is the fact that the team has only a couple of weeks after each new film to make their money, as by that time the film has been pirated and revenue plummets.
Film festival programmer and former CAC curator Alan Hofmanis felt compelled to travel to Uganda and meet Isaac Nabwana after watching the trailer for Who Killed Captain Alex, Uganda’s first action film (hits for Isaac’s trailers number in the millions on youtube).
Inspired by Ramon Film Productions and with a renewed love for cinema, Alan returned to the United States and recruited independent film producer/distributor/filmmaker Ben Barenholtz. Within weeks, Alan, Ben, and cinematographer Andreas von Scheele were on a flight to Uganda to document Ramon Film Productions and the life, struggles, and creative process of filmmaker Isaac Nabwana.
Funny, touching, and inspiring, WAKALIWOOD: THE DOCUMENTARY celebrates the pure joy of creativity and reminds us that a dedicated team can overcome any obstacle when united by a common dream.. (70 min. / Produced and Directed by Ben Barenholtz and Alan Hofmanis)
Alan Hofmanis is the first American to visit and document Ramon Film Productions, a team of actors, filmmakers, and technicians producing Hollywood-inspired action and genre films in the slums of Wakaliga, Uganda. Adopted by the Nkima (Monkey) clan and given the name Ssali, he co-starred in director Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey (I.G.G.) Nabwana’s most recent action film, BLACK, and in the process became the first muzungu (Westerner) to appear in Ugandan cinema. Previously, Alan Ssali Hofmanis served as the Director of Programming for the Lake Placid Film Forum and as Director of Special Programming for Cinema Arts Centre, in Huntington, NY.
Ben Barenholtz has been a key presence in the independent film scene – as an exhibitor, distributor, and producer.
In 1968 he opened the Elgin Cinema. The theater became the world’s most innovative specialty and revival house, relaunching the films of Buster Keaton among others and screening cult, underground, and experimental films for the emerging countercultural audience.
Barenholtz also developed new ways of screening movies. Most notably, he originated the Midnight Movie concept in 1970 with Jodorowsky’s El Topo. and followed by John Waters’ Pink Flamingos and Perry Henzell’s The Harder They Come.
Barenholtz formed Libra Films in 1972. The first film Libra distributed was a revival of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Les Enfants Terrible, followed by Tacchella’s Cousin, Cousine, which became one of the largest grossing foreign films in the US and was nominated for 3 Academy Awards. Libra also launched and distributed, among others, George Romero’s Martin, John Sayles’ first feature Return of the Secaucus Seven, and David Lynch’s first feature Eraserhead.
In 1984 he joined with Ted and Jim Pedas to form Circle Releasing. Among the films released by Circle were Yoshimitsu Morita’s The Family Game, Guy Maddin’s first feature Tales From the Gimli Hospital, Vincent Ward’s The Navigator, John Woo’s The Killer, Catherine Breillat’s 36 Fillette, Alain Cavalier’s Therese, and Blood Simple, the first film by Joel and Ethan Coen. He continued working with the Coens on the production of Raising Arizona, and as executive producer of Miller’s Crossing and Barton Fink, which won the Palme d’Or at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, as well as awards for Best Director and Best Actor. This was the first and last time the three top honors have all gone to the same film at Cannes.
Barenholtz went on to produce George Romero’s Bruiser, J Todd Anderson’s The Naked Man, executive-produced Gregory Hines’ directorial debut Bleeding Hearts and Ulu Grossbard’s Georgia. He served as co-executive producer of Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream.
Barenholtz recently directed his first feature, Music Inn, a documentary about the famed fifties jazz venue, and completed Suzuya Bobo’s Family Games and Wakaliwood: The Documentary.
And he was a Zombie in the original Dawn of the Dead.