Apr 08 2010

Adolf el Assal in 352 magazin

Published by at 01:31 under Articles

Haut faenkt den Tournage vum no-budget Kuerzfilm ‘Mano De Dios’ mam Diego Castello, Nilton Martins, Sascha Ley, Gilles Soeder, Edoardo Inzolia & Tony Bitegets.
Regie: Adolf El Assal
Camera: Jeff Kieffer. Den Tournag ass haut, muer, de 20ten an 27ten Abrell.

http://hello.news352.lu/ by Sarah Pitt, photos by Vincent Habay
Adolf el Assal makes this week the cover of the 352 Magazin:

Adolf El Assal, the “Guerrilla Film Maker”

“Mulabe wo yaliko mukwano gwo – The enemies we create are the friends we made”

Adolf El Assal aka Ady was born 7 April, 1981 in Alexandria, Egypt. After living six years in Dubai and London, his family decided to immigrate to Luxembourg where Ady has spent most of his life. Film has been part of Ady’s life from a young age. Since 2003, Ady has been unable to put a camera down camera and through his company Bigtime Entertainments, has made no less than forty music videos, 8 short films, a dozen mini-documentaries and three feature films, including a documentary. With his first effort as a director, with unique film “Reste Bien, Mec!”, Ady managed to start a career as a director in Luxembourg.

Divizionz is a “guerrilla warfare film” produced and directed by the collective “Yes!” That’s Us”, a film making collective based in Uganda lead by Donald Mugisha, who have been making films since 2002 – mostly music videos in East Africa. In 2006, Adolf El Assal met some of their members at the Berlin Film Festival and four months later Divisionz was made. Since its world premiere in 2008, the film has been shown at over fifty festivals worldwide and won many awards including two awards at the prestigious African Movie Academy Awards 2008. On Tuesday 30 March Divizionz will premiere in Luxembourg.

Divizionz tells the story of Kapo, Bana, Kanyankole and Mulokole, four young people from four different regions in Uganda. They live in the suburbs of the capital, Kampala, and their biggest dream is to become musicians. An opportunity arises for them to play at an open mic session in the capital. En route, the four are arrested for various reasons. Through their experiences the true friendship of the four friends is put to the test.

Divizionz is a story of friendship, travel and ambition. The film examines a clear division between the regions of Uganda, but also the division between the middle class and working class in the country. The film is also the first film of its kind in Africa, especially in the country’s local language, Luganda. The film was shot entirely in Kampala, Uganda between July and August 2006. The final cut of the film was ready on 1 June 2007.

A week before the premiere in Luxembourg 352 meets with Adolf El Assal, who has just finished his first real professional short film ‘La Fameuse Route’, to talk about the “guerilla” film Divizionz.

Where was the film first screened?

My initial idea was to have Divizionz premiere here in Luxembourg for its world premiere, but in the end it got selected for the Berlin Film Festival in 2008. Since then it has been shown at around 60 festivals! Nearly each week it is screened at a new festival. It’s been shown all over the world, on nearly every continent.

How long did it take to shoot?

About 70% was filmed in the outskirts of Kampala, and the rest was filmed in the city itself. It took about two months to shoot, with about 18 days in the ghettos.

I suppose you didn’t have a huge budget?

Zero (laughs). Let’s say in total it cost us about 5000 US dollars to shoot the film. We also had to pay some people for them to let us shoot in certain areas. Sometimes we had a lot of trouble. Once we paid someone to use the area, but the man we gave the money to turned out to be from a different area! Someone from the area we were shooting in then came to us shouting and screaming… It was very, very intense.

How did you come out of that situation??

Luckily, two of our main actors are very famous musicians in Uganda. When they realised that they were in the film, they let us use the area without any further problems.

How does that work? You have your ideas for the film and you know what you want to show and you just tell them?

Yes, exactly. We believe that you tell a story with pictures, not with dialogues. For us dialogue is not the most important thing. They played themselves basically. That’s why it was easier for them to just improvise and go for it.

Why and how is music so important to the film?

Music is actually the biggest part of Divizionz, because it is about four aspiring musicians and the film stars two of Ugandans star musicians. Their biggest dream is to become famous.

Why is immigration such a prominent issue in all of your work?

Immigration is something that interests me because of my background and because of living in Luxembourg. It’s so special here because half of the population are immigrants: Luxembourg was built on immigrants. Yet there are only two or three filmmakers who have made films about this issue. I want to be the first guy to do popular art-house films on this subject.

What inspired you to produce this film? How is it a “guerilla” film?

We want to show that you can make good films and tell stories with basically no money. We are struggling to make films, to satisfy producers to give us the money to make the films they like, not the ones we like. We want to use technology to show that with the advances in technology nowadays that anyone can make a film but really on a professional level, so that you can no longer see the difference between an amateur film and a professional film that costs a million times more to make. At the same time we want to educate people, to show young people all over the world that you can make a living doing what you really love. You might have to struggle at the beginning but you can make a film among friends and maybe make a living – who knows. We call ourselves “guerrilla filmmakers”. Distribution wise we wanted to distribute the film on the streets, just burn copies of it and distribute it. That was our main plan and we actually started doing it until we started signing contracts!

How is Divizionz different from popular African films?

Most African films are very emotional and love stories. Nollywood, for example, is the biggest film industry in the world at the moment. They make films cheaply, shoot fast and release a lot of films. They are of very poor quality – the sound is bad, the acting is bad, the picture is bad – but people watch them and there is a big market for them. So people associate popular African films with Nollywood mostly. We wanted to try and be different. We wanted to be popular but at the same time appeal to the art-house market so that our film could be shown at festivals. It’s very colourful and fast-paced, which made it popular. It also addresses current issues in Uganda such as identity.

Did Divizionz get a good response in Africa?

In Africa there are no cinemas. In the whole of Uganda there is one cinema! They have video halls, “Bibandas”, instead, where people can get together to view a film from a television set. At the beginning they showed lots of Hollywood films but over the last ten years they began showing more and more local African-made films. At the moment only Nollywood films are distributed all over the place and we saw that there was a market to show something different. Divizionz was shown in the video halls in Uganda and it was a huge success. All kinds of people watched it, from the upper class and the working class, because there is something for everybody to relate to. No one has ever really focussed on the things they see every day in Uganda, and here they had a film from their land. Hollywood becomes boring after a while – the same stories, the same faces… there is little in it that is original anymore.

Have you had any progress on having Divizionz distributed?

We’re not chasing the money, we’re still young, and we want to build something good. One day it’s going to pay off I’m sure. Thanks to the Internet you can distribute your film and have it seen all over the world very easily. If you have the right marketing strategy, you can reach a big audience.

Are you happy with the success that Divizionz has had so far?

Though it is not financial success (yet!) we are happy, yes. We’re lucky enough that the film made it to so many festivals. Now the festivals are asking us when our next film is coming out, we don’t need to approach them anymore. Out of the top ten festivals in the world, Divizionz appeared at most of them. That helps us in our career as film makers, as we were able to break through to a specific market.

What feedback have you had from the public?

So far, everywhere that the film has been, from LA to London to South Africa, everyone could relate to the characters. We always have a question and answer session after the movie and people talk for hours about it. The feedback has been incredible. We couldn’t believe it, it is something we never expected. I hope that people in Luxembourg like it too.

*****************BOX**********************

The Federation of African Associations in Luxembourg and Caramba Cinemas are pleased to present a Luxembourg premiere of Divizionz on Tuesday 30 March at 7.30 p.m. in Cine Belval. The screening will be followed by a discussion in the presence of co-director and Luxembourg producer Adolf El Assal. The film will be shown in its original version in Luganda with English and French subtitles.

Divizionz premiere will be preceded by the short film “en dehors de l’eau” by Cyrus Neshvad: In the Iranian revolution in 1979, a couple fled in exile to Luxembourg, the film is about their thoughts and feelings 30 years later.

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Haut faenkt den Tournage vum no-budget Kuerzfilm ‘Mano De Dios’ mam Diego Castello, Nilton Martins, Sascha Ley, Gilles Soeder, Edoardo Inzolia & Tony Bitegets.
Regie: Adolf El Assal
Camera: Jeff Kieffer. Den Tournag ass haut, muer, de 20ten an 27ten Abrell.

http://hello.news352.lu/ by Sarah Pitt, photos by Vincent Habay
Adolf el Assal makes this week the cover of the 352 Magazin:

Adolf El Assal, the “Guerrilla Film Maker”

“Mulabe wo yaliko mukwano gwo – The enemies we create are the friends we made”

Adolf El Assal aka Ady was born 7 April, 1981 in Alexandria, Egypt. After living six years in Dubai and London, his family decided to immigrate to Luxembourg where Ady has spent most of his life. Film has been part of Ady’s life from a young age. Since 2003, Ady has been unable to put a camera down camera and through his company Bigtime Entertainments, has made no less than forty music videos, 8 short films, a dozen mini-documentaries and three feature films, including a documentary. With his first effort as a director, with unique film “Reste Bien, Mec!”, Ady managed to start a career as a director in Luxembourg.

Divizionz is a “guerrilla warfare film” produced and directed by the collective “Yes!” That’s Us”, a film making collective based in Uganda lead by Donald Mugisha, who have been making films since 2002 – mostly music videos in East Africa. In 2006, Adolf El Assal met some of their members at the Berlin Film Festival and four months later Divisionz was made. Since its world premiere in 2008, the film has been shown at over fifty festivals worldwide and won many awards including two awards at the prestigious African Movie Academy Awards 2008. On Tuesday 30 March Divizionz will premiere in Luxembourg.

Divizionz tells the story of Kapo, Bana, Kanyankole and Mulokole, four young people from four different regions in Uganda. They live in the suburbs of the capital, Kampala, and their biggest dream is to become musicians. An opportunity arises for them to play at an open mic session in the capital. En route, the four are arrested for various reasons. Through their experiences the true friendship of the four friends is put to the test.

Divizionz is a story of friendship, travel and ambition. The film examines a clear division between the regions of Uganda, but also the division between the middle class and working class in the country. The film is also the first film of its kind in Africa, especially in the country’s local language, Luganda. The film was shot entirely in Kampala, Uganda between July and August 2006. The final cut of the film was ready on 1 June 2007.

A week before the premiere in Luxembourg 352 meets with Adolf El Assal, who has just finished his first real professional short film ‘La Fameuse Route’, to talk about the “guerilla” film Divizionz.

Where was the film first screened?

My initial idea was to have Divizionz premiere here in Luxembourg for its world premiere, but in the end it got selected for the Berlin Film Festival in 2008. Since then it has been shown at around 60 festivals! Nearly each week it is screened at a new festival. It’s been shown all over the world, on nearly every continent.

How long did it take to shoot?

About 70% was filmed in the outskirts of Kampala, and the rest was filmed in the city itself. It took about two months to shoot, with about 18 days in the ghettos.

I suppose you didn’t have a huge budget?

Zero (laughs). Let’s say in total it cost us about 5000 US dollars to shoot the film. We also had to pay some people for them to let us shoot in certain areas. Sometimes we had a lot of trouble. Once we paid someone to use the area, but the man we gave the money to turned out to be from a different area! Someone from the area we were shooting in then came to us shouting and screaming… It was very, very intense.

How did you come out of that situation??

Luckily, two of our main actors are very famous musicians in Uganda. When they realised that they were in the film, they let us use the area without any further problems.

How does that work? You have your ideas for the film and you know what you want to show and you just tell them?

Yes, exactly. We believe that you tell a story with pictures, not with dialogues. For us dialogue is not the most important thing. They played themselves basically. That’s why it was easier for them to just improvise and go for it.

Why and how is music so important to the film?

Music is actually the biggest part of Divizionz, because it is about four aspiring musicians and the film stars two of Ugandans star musicians. Their biggest dream is to become famous.

Why is immigration such a prominent issue in all of your work?

Immigration is something that interests me because of my background and because of living in Luxembourg. It’s so special here because half of the population are immigrants: Luxembourg was built on immigrants. Yet there are only two or three filmmakers who have made films about this issue. I want to be the first guy to do popular art-house films on this subject.

What inspired you to produce this film? How is it a “guerilla” film?

We want to show that you can make good films and tell stories with basically no money. We are struggling to make films, to satisfy producers to give us the money to make the films they like, not the ones we like. We want to use technology to show that with the advances in technology nowadays that anyone can make a film but really on a professional level, so that you can no longer see the difference between an amateur film and a professional film that costs a million times more to make. At the same time we want to educate people, to show young people all over the world that you can make a living doing what you really love. You might have to struggle at the beginning but you can make a film among friends and maybe make a living – who knows. We call ourselves “guerrilla filmmakers”. Distribution wise we wanted to distribute the film on the streets, just burn copies of it and distribute it. That was our main plan and we actually started doing it until we started signing contracts!

How is Divizionz different from popular African films?

Most African films are very emotional and love stories. Nollywood, for example, is the biggest film industry in the world at the moment. They make films cheaply, shoot fast and release a lot of films. They are of very poor quality – the sound is bad, the acting is bad, the picture is bad – but people watch them and there is a big market for them. So people associate popular African films with Nollywood mostly. We wanted to try and be different. We wanted to be popular but at the same time appeal to the art-house market so that our film could be shown at festivals. It’s very colourful and fast-paced, which made it popular. It also addresses current issues in Uganda such as identity.

Did Divizionz get a good response in Africa?

In Africa there are no cinemas. In the whole of Uganda there is one cinema! They have video halls, “Bibandas”, instead, where people can get together to view a film from a television set. At the beginning they showed lots of Hollywood films but over the last ten years they began showing more and more local African-made films. At the moment only Nollywood films are distributed all over the place and we saw that there was a market to show something different. Divizionz was shown in the video halls in Uganda and it was a huge success. All kinds of people watched it, from the upper class and the working class, because there is something for everybody to relate to. No one has ever really focussed on the things they see every day in Uganda, and here they had a film from their land. Hollywood becomes boring after a while – the same stories, the same faces… there is little in it that is original anymore.

Have you had any progress on having Divizionz distributed?

We’re not chasing the money, we’re still young, and we want to build something good. One day it’s going to pay off I’m sure. Thanks to the Internet you can distribute your film and have it seen all over the world very easily. If you have the right marketing strategy, you can reach a big audience.

Are you happy with the success that Divizionz has had so far?

Though it is not financial success (yet!) we are happy, yes. We’re lucky enough that the film made it to so many festivals. Now the festivals are asking us when our next film is coming out, we don’t need to approach them anymore. Out of the top ten festivals in the world, Divizionz appeared at most of them. That helps us in our career as film makers, as we were able to break through to a specific market.

What feedback have you had from the public?

So far, everywhere that the film has been, from LA to London to South Africa, everyone could relate to the characters. We always have a question and answer session after the movie and people talk for hours about it. The feedback has been incredible. We couldn’t believe it, it is something we never expected. I hope that people in Luxembourg like it too.

*****************BOX**********************

The Federation of African Associations in Luxembourg and Caramba Cinemas are pleased to present a Luxembourg premiere of Divizionz on Tuesday 30 March at 7.30 p.m. in Cine Belval. The screening will be followed by a discussion in the presence of co-director and Luxembourg producer Adolf El Assal. The film will be shown in its original version in Luganda with English and French subtitles.

Divizionz premiere will be preceded by the short film “en dehors de l’eau” by Cyrus Neshvad: In the Iranian revolution in 1979, a couple fled in exile to Luxembourg, the film is about their thoughts and feelings 30 years later.

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