Historic stateside presentation of Who Killed Captain Alex? on the GE Theatre screen
Who Killed Captain Alex? is the most unexpected global buzz in cinema today. Considered the first Ugandan action film and made on less than a shoestring budget in the country’s eccentric Wakaliwood studio, the piece is packed with cartoon violence, two dimensional helicopters, guns made from old car parts, wooden bullets and buckets of spectacularly fake blood.
Sold on homemade DVDs only in its home country, Alex became a huge hit on Youtube, so far drawing over 2.5 million international views.
Now, as part of a four-date January tour (touching Hamilton and Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Schenectady and Madrid, Spain), Who Killed Captain Alex? comes to the big screen in America for a rare exhibition at Proctors.
The film—previously seen stateside only at the Philadelphia Museum of Contemporary Art and musician Jack White’s Third Man storefront in Nashville—will be accompanied by an It Came From Schenectady style spectacle featuring favorite Wakaliwood characters Ebola Hunter, Jesus Commando and Segwanye, the Killer Gourd as well as an auction and giveaways; a Q&A with Wakaliwood’s American ambassador Alan Hofmanis; a Skype interview with Wakaliwood auteur Isaac Nabwana; clips from upcoming Wakaliwood attractions; and (get this) the opportunity for volunteers to “die” on film for a future Wakaliwood production.
American film maven Hofmanis became aware of Nabwana’s work in early 2010. After spying a Youtube trailer for Alex, and feeling dejected from a painful rejection on the eve of a planned wedding proposal, Hofmanis made a spot decision to use Honeymoon money for a ticket to Uganda.
After tracking down Nabwana, he put his past experience as director of programming for Lake Placid Film Forum and director of special programming for Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, Long Island to use as an actor and booster for the African auteur’s wild work—in the process becoming, under the clan name Ssali, the first mzungu (Westerner) in Ugandan film.
Based in the Wakaliga slum of Kampala, Uganda, Nabwana created a compound around his house, along with a makeshift studio. Dubbing it Wakaliwood, he taught himself and his colleagues how to make films on the cheap, literally by training each other in acting, building props and jibs from detritus and teaching homegrown Kung Fu moves inspired by the films of Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee.
It is sui generis and silly at the same time. It is also entirely brilliant, reminding Hofmanis and others of the early improvisational days of Hollywood; and of fascinating interest to American filmmakers, cinephiles and action freaks.
Nabwana, who grew up under the terrifying rule of Idi Amin, says that Wakaliwood films, despite the bullets and blood, are not comments on African violence. They are simply fun, with plenty of comedy to offset the gore.
“Action is an international language,” Nabwana told NPR.
This exhibition of Who Killed Captain Alex?, on the movie screen at the GE Theatre, is a unique opportunity to participate in a historic cinematic and socially potent moment.
A recent article and video created by Vice provide an in-depth look at Wakaliwood as well as Nabwana’s motives and methods. They are an excellent way to start a dialogue about the man called “Uganda’s Tarantino.”
Key Wakaliwood figures, as well as Proctors’ own film authority Paul Kazee, are available for interview, and film reporters are encouraged to pursue this unique, cutting edge story.
Promotional trailer created specifically for the Proctors screening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfbpCjkwO54
Tickets for Who Killed Captain Alex?, 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, at the GE Theatre at Proctors, $9 adults and $6 students, are available at the Box Office at Proctors, 432 State Street, Schenectady; by phone at 518-346-6204; and online at proctors.org.