Runtime | 93 minutes
Genre | Fantasy/Thriller
Year | 2019
Language | English/Luganda
Country of Origin | Uganda/UK
Sales/Distribution | firstname.lastname@example.org
“A trip Philip K. Dick might have taken… the kind of Science Fiction that JG Ballard celebrated” International Times
“A film which is ambitious with high ideas… willing to go the extra mile and not be formulaic” Mark Kermode (BBC/Observer)
“This is debut film making at its best” Britflicks
The main action takes place in East Africa and revolves around a mystical substance called Bulu – a rare and sacred powder said to bestow the power of prophecy.
Hugo Winter, a roguish American drug smuggler, sets out on a quest to find the source of the Bulu, hoping to bring back enough to solve his financial woes. Following his visions, he travels to Uganda and looks to enlist the help of a guide there who he has seen vividly in his hallucinations.
In Fort Lugard, he meets two sisters who say they can help him find what he’s looking for, but they have competing agendas. Kisakye, a devout Christian, wants to sell the drug to save her village, whereas Angela, a criminal hustler, is only interested in getting rich quick.
As Hugo follows them deeper into the jungle, he begins to doubt whether his prophetic visions are leading him to death or glory.
Swedish-born Nicolas is a trained method actor who has worked with Sharon Chatten, the renowned LA coach. His notable credits include ``The Relationship Play`` and the multi-award winning ``To Be Delivered`` directed by Pierre Amstutz Roch. Nicolas is currently working on his debut album as well as a book. He is set to play a lead in 2020 feature film ``Black Sun`` (Greenlit Productions).
A Ugandan film and theatre actress, dancer and visual artist. A graduate of the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Art at Makerere University, Esteri Tebandeke has played roles in the films Sins of the Parents(2008), Master on Duty (2009), Queen of Katwe (2016) and Her Broken Shadow (2016). She regularly performs in theatrical productions including many that have aired at the national theatre of Uganda.
Since 2011, producer David Cecil and director Dan Moss have been working in the film industry of Uganda, teaching at Kampala Film School, running an independent cinema and producing shorts, music videos and documentaries. In 2017 they shot their first feature film, Imperial Blue, in the remote forests and villages of western Uganda.
The producer and director gathered a team of experienced professionals from Uganda and Europe, and paired them as mentors with students and upcoming Ugandan film-makers. A Feature Film Apprenticeship Programme was designed to develop practical experience in feature-film making in the Ugandan industry. The Programme addresses both the skills gap and the lack of opportunity for Ugandans to work on professional features, since international productions always import their main technical and logistic crew from outside East Africa.
The five-week shoot of Imperial Blue was successfully completed to deadline on a low budget and to a high professional standard. The Apprenticeship Programme made an important contribution to the development of a film industry in Uganda, capable of producing original, creative content to international standards.
Shooting in a remote, rural location required the production team to engage positively with the local community. GirlBe, a Ugandan gender rights organization, was present on the shoot to work with local schools in the delivery of scholastic materials, as well as organizing educational and cultural workshops to women and children. Meanwhile, local men were employed as set builders and in logistical support roles.
With the successful completion of Imperial Blue, the production team aims to go on to repeat the Feature Film Apprenticeship Programme in Uganda, always adhering to its ideals and ethics. We will produce a world-class feature every few years, involving increasing numbers of local film-makers in key roles, thus empowering Ugandans to build their own professional industry.
Low budget fantasy films are often hampered by unrealistic ambitions and a lack of character depth. Their slim resources cannot match their grandiose visions, while the creative focus tends to be on the fantasy elements at the expense of good dialogue and acting.
It was important to me that Imperial Blue fell into neither of these traps. Having come up with a narrative device that would be suited to our restrictions – the prophetic drug ‘Bulu’ – the next task was making fully-grounded characters that the audience can believe in. The Ugandan actors were mainly skilled in theatre but they applied themselves incredibly well to the medium of film. With enough rehearsal time, we were able to forge real characters who we could then immerse in our story.
From the start, we scripted the majority of scenes outdoors to limit lighting issues, since there is very limited professional lighting equipment in Uganda. We employed a Director of Photography who came with high-end equipment and an ability to make use of the limited resources on offer. Under severe restrictions, he achieved an aesthetic that is not only unique, but visceral and beautiful at the same time. Meanwhile, the film-making Apprentices, whose education was core to our project, tackled their tasks to such great effect that I would not hesitate to hire many of them in a professional capacity on my return.
The shoot itself was a grueling affair. We had to contend with a punishing shooting schedule, equatorial heat, tropical storms, biting ants, leeches and insects that laid eggs in our feet. On the other hand, we were blessed with not only active assistance but respect and hospitality from the village where we shot most of the film.
The making of Imperial Blue was a full-on adventure in itself, and one that I am proud to have undertaken with such a stellar cast and crew.