USIU-Africa Film student wins €2,000 award at the Great Lakes Creative Producers Workshop

By Rachael Diang’a

Collins Akunga, a Bachelor of Arts in Film Major (senior) has been announced the prize winner of the most coveted grant at the just concluded 2nd edition of the Great Lakes Creative Producers Film Lab (GLCPFL) that was held at USIU-Africa from October 24-28, 2022.

Collins’ film project entitled “Pwagu” was selected by Federation Studios, a multinational film firm with headquarters in Paris, France and heavy presence in USA, UK, Spain, Italy, Israel among others. For this year’s edition of GLCPFL, Federation Studios was a sponsoring partner. The pack comes with a €2,000 cash and production mentorship at the studios.

Two USIU-Africa students took part in the workshop; Collins Akunga and Sofia Namuye (also a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production and Directing Senior) made it to the list this year. Sofia’s project received a special mention by the mentors/ judges during the closing ceremony at USIU-Africa last week. Collins’ win doesn’t come as a surprise as he has shown his prowess as a film director and director of photography (DoP) from the time he was a freshman, when he directed Mad Love (2018), the first award winning film from the USIU-Africa’s film program.

Pwagu is about a young lady who poses as a call girl to rob her clients but one day gets an agoraphobic client who takes her hostage. Sofia’s project at the workshop began as an animated tale about the legendary Lwanda Magere but later turned into a live action drama.

The annual five-day workshop brings together film producers and directors from the Great Lakes region for a hands-on mentorship and training workshop on creative producing. Creative producers are scarce and far between, and the gap between the creative team and the production departments can be uncomfortable, even counterproductive for a film project. This annual workshop was initiated to fill this gap.

This year’s workshop brought together 10 participants from Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and USIU-Africa, usually represented by two film students. Other than Collins and Sofia, a large number of cinematic arts students and faculty attended and participated in the plenary sessions. Several faculty members allowed their students to partially or fully hold their lessons from the workshop as long as the sessions were relevant. A good example is the PRD 3005 class led by Melissa Kandondo, which engaged with the mentors during sessions on “Mapping Film in Africa” and “Pitching”.

“Thank you for the opportunity to attend the lab. I feel that I’m now a better filmmaker. I learnt so much,” says Akunga, regarding the workshop. About winning the award, he says: “I am really excited for what the future holds due to this award.” The other participant, Sofia, on her part says: “attending this workshop has left me a totally different person and put me in another level in my film career.”
In its second year in the country, the lab remains an event to look forward to and this collaboration provides a unique identity to our film training at USIU-Africa.

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