ABOUT THE FILM
In Kampala, Uganda, the city streets are always grid- locked and congested with traffic and the fastest way to travel is on motorbike taxis called “boda bodas”. The men who drive these boda bodas have a reputation for being tough hustlers; after all, you have to think quickly to survive Kampala traffic.
City life has been unkind to a small family consisting of Goodman, Rosa and their teenage son Abel. Their hopes of finding a better life in the city have turned into a nightmare of daily subsistence. When young Abel is first entrusted with the family boda boda it isn’t too long before things go wrong.
We follow Abel on his quest through the city and in the process gain an insider’s view of urban Africa, its underworld and the generation gap between urban migrants and their first generation children.
The greatest migration in human history is happening right now in sub-Saharan Africa. People are leaving the land and villages to stream into the cities in numbers that dwarf any other exodus. They come in search of a better life. Sometimes they find it, more often they don’t. Their numbers swell the burgeoning ghettos that surround the urban centres. Our story deals with this huge issue from the perspective of one small family trying to make it in the city.
THE BODA BODA THIEVES as a concept is a homage and tribute to the great Italian neo-realist film THE BI! CYCLE THIEF (1948) by Vittorio De Sica. Our film is not a remake or re-interpretation, but an original work freely inspired by the classic. We do endeavour to remain true to the spirit of the classic and the Italian neo-realists. The intention is to update realism with a youthful edge.
This is another Yes! That’s Us film and as such we stray true to our working method of using a small mobile crew of multi-tasking people making media with a message. Uganda has received a lot of bad press lately due to a raft of repressive laws against homosexuality, freedom of expression and even miniskirts. Not all Ugandan’s have fallen for these political stunts though.
As artists we believe in the power of cinema to mirror society for all its imperfect beauty. Slowly but surely positive changes are happening. Despite hardships, the people endure and find new ways to make things work. We felt compelled to make The Boda Boda Thieves as a comment on a society in transition.
Yes! That's Us
Yes! That’s Us is a filmmaking collective and pan-African statement which affirms the collaborative nature of filmmaking and of the importance of finding indigenous working models and distribution solutions that suit conditions on the ground.
Africa is uniquely poised to benefit from the impact of new digital filmmaking and film distribution technology, coupled with a largely untapped local market hungry for local product as well as a renewed international interest in a continent rich in the raw material of human ingenuity. We recognise that the demographic of sub-Saharan Africa is predominantly young and urban and have identified the insight we have into this subculture as our competitive advantage. We are excited by the possibility of new technologies to affect change.
Yes! That’s Us’ medium term objective is to turn a profit one film at a time; the long term objective is to produce an annual slate of African films that utilize ‘leap frog’ digital technology for cost effective film production and distribution. We also intend to continue to use and promote local talent and skills through our cross-cultural exchanges and projects. We believe that by enabling collaborators in complementary disciplines, such as interactive design, social networking and digital marketing to promote and move product, we will help create new markets and business opportunities that will have a multiplier effect.
Donald Mugisha is the founder member of Yes! That’s Us. He studied Mass Communicationat Kampala University but attributes his ‘real life’ education to the making of hundreds of music videos for the East African music scene. Mugisha went on to direct a documentary about the method and reach of these music videos which garnered numerous awards and accolades both locally and internationals and helped turn his attention to filmmaking. Mugisha grew up on a farm in Western Uganda and watched a lot of kung-fu movies growing up, as he matured be discovered the work of Rossellini, Truffaut, Fernando Meirelles, adopting their neo-realist style as his own. He describes his first introduction to filmmaking was as a child when his father bought a small VHS video camera which he started experimenting with. At university he met a range of ‘frustrated’ artists from a cross section of disciplines.
Jeremy Bean is a creative "fixer" and producer, through his boutique studio FIXER he developed the KNOW YOUR CITY campaign for Shack Dwellers International which was launched at the World Urban Forum in Medellin Columbia. Jeremy has worked on various campaigns cutting across government, corporate, FMCG, sports marketing and NGO clients. He has a passion for communications and extensive practical knowledge in both a management and creative capacity. Jeremy is equally passionate about using media as a catalyst to affect social change, his role in this project was both as a co producer and facilitating the collaboration of The Boda Boda Thieves film and the KNOW YOUR CITY campaign.
Wanjiku’s love of story has carried her through 9 years of working in the film and advertising industry as a writer, producer and actress. She is an Alumna of the 2012 Talent Project Market and the winner of the VFF Highlight Pitch Award during the Berlinale Co-production Market award at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival for “The Boda Boda Thieves.” She is also an alumni of the 2013 Durban Talent Campus.
Wanjiku has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Filmmaking and a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Business and Marketing. She regularly freelances as a Script Editor/ Story consultant and is currently working as a Film Producer in South Africa on various projects that are in development, as well as other progressive film development initiatives, aimed at growing global audiences for progressive pan-African content, film skills enhancement and job creation within the film and media industry for disenfranchised youth in Africa.
Robert Nyanzi is based in Kampala, Uganda. He has a BSc. (majoring in Statistics) from Makerere University (2002) and a Diploma in Film and TV Production from Kampala University (2011). Robert Nyanzi attended the 5th Talent Campus Durban 2012, Durban FilmMart 2013 (Won Durban FilmMart award IFFR), Binger Film Lab 2013-2014, CineMart Rotterdam Lab 2014 and Berlinale Talents 2014. He is a Producer/Filmmaker and heads up Fused Dots, a Kampala-based production company. He also produces shorts and feature-length films around East Africa.
James Tayler has worked in the film and television industry since 1997 as an editor and director prior to turning his focus to features and their production. With bursary assistance from South Africa’s National Film and Video Foundation, Tayler graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts degree in motion picture film with the focus of his re- search thesis being “The Impact of Digital Technology for african Filmmakers and Distributors.”
"African at the moment is undergoing a seismic shift. The changes we will see in our lifetime will be comparable to those that shaped post- war Europe. The continent regularly achieves growth rates of 6% and above despite the global economic climate. I believe in South-South collaboration and that Africa has to accept responsibility for it’s own development. International creative exchange in all it’s forms is the vanguard of a strong civic society. As storytellers we have a duty to hold a mirror to our societies and help grow a positive self awareness that serves as a defense against exploitation both from without and from within."
NATHAN COLLETT is an American-Australian filmmaker resident in Kenya. He is motivated to tell authentic and compelling film/TV stories of a high artistic & technical quality. He has worked with Facebook, Africa Channel (USA) and others to pay the bills. He is most passionate about making films & helping others to make innovative films about life in East Africa-past, present and future. Nathan’s films have screened at Berlinale, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Verona, Italy and many other film festivals. He won numerous awards with his films Kibera Kid and Togetherness Supreme. Nathan is currently working on a new feature entitled New Eden, set in a post-apocalyptic East Africa. Nathan is the founder of Hot Sun Films and its non-profit arm, Hot Sun Foundation – both located in Nairobi, Kenya. He believes in giving back through the foundation which has trained over 200 youth from Kibera, East Africa's largest slum, and other disadvantaged, talented youth to become filmmakers. A majority are now gainfully employed in the East Africa TV/film industry. Nathan has a B.A. in African Studies, Stanford University, California, USA and an MFA in Film from the University of Southern California, USA. He was a Fulbright Fellow in Nairobi in 2006-2007 and received the New Leaders Group award in 2008 for his work promoting international understanding through youth video exchange.
Jonas Katzenstein (b. 1980) founded 2004 the recording studio "artaudio" in Cologne. In 2008 he founded together with Maximilian Leo augenschein Filmproduktion and in 2009, he completed a postgraduate education as a fiction producer at the Cologne Filmhaus. Furthermore he participated in several further education and networking programs in order to widen the company’s network and expertise in international coproduction: Cannes Producers Network 2012; Rotterdam Lab 2012; EAVE Marketing-Workshop 2011; Producers Workshop Cannes 2011; AV-Gründerzentrum Stipendienprogramm 2011; etc. Since then he produced several national and international projects in various countries like France, Belgium, Brasil, Uganda, etc.
Maximilian Leo (b. 1979). From 2002 to 2004, he shot documentaries in different parts of the world, including Afghanistan and Africa. In 2005, he took up study at the Cologne Academy of Media Arts with a focus on feature film direction, where he obtained his diploma in 2009. In 2008 he founded together with Jonas Katzenstein augenschein Filmproduktion. At augenschein, he is responsible for developing new projects of his own as well as supervising other directors and writers projects. In 2014 his debut feature film MY BROTHER’S KEEPER premiered at the Berlinale 2014 as the opening film of the Perspektive Deutsches Kino. Furthermore he produced several national and international projects.
To solve poverty, the poor need to link up, because as individuals they have no power. But when they organize their communities and form citywide networks, they can develop so many things together that they could never do alone.When communities link with other communities they learn from one another. They get the information and the knowledge they need to change their lives, their communities and their cities. Once they know how to organize new perspectives open up and these perspective show them how to solve poverty.
When the poor have their own information and their own solutions, their hand is strengthened when it comes time to negotiating with the government and the formal system for the things they need like land, housing, access to public services, credit and other entitlements. Structural issues like land use, finance policies, building regulations and city planning norms are never engraved in stone - these issues are all highly political. If the poor can come to that bargaining table knowing their settlements and their cities, they are more likely to be taken seriously as viable development partners.