Netflix began investing in Africa in February 2020, licensing and commissioning films and shows from countries such as Nigeria and South Africa, which have a more established film industry.
It is now Uganda’s turn, with Loukman Ali’s crime thriller ‘The Girl in the Yellow Jumper’ based on the true story of a series of seemingly unrelated murders in Uganda’s Nadunget region. Local parables heighten this localisation to convey a more important message: the good thing isn’t always the right thing to do.
The road to Netflix’s acquisition of the film was not easy. Finally, it was scheduled for a cinematic screening in Kampala in 2020, making it the first locally produced Ugandan film to be accepted by commercial cinemas in the country’s capital, which typically show Hollywood blockbusters.
However, two weeks before the film’s release, the government imposed a lockdown and limitations on public gatherings due to the global Covid-19 outbreak, putting an end to these plans.
These roadblocks arose in the backdrop of a country that provides little official support for its creative industries.
When The Girl in the Yellow Jumper began streaming, the spokesperson for the health ministry tweeted, “Watched, but it’s just fake.”
The tweet sparked significant support for the film and its director, particularly among local creatives who operate with little formal support and face a lot of government scrutiny. President Yoweri Museveni, for example, frequently implores Ugandans to abandon the arts in favour of the presumably more valuable sciences.
Ali, for one, says that he hopes the international spotlight given to The Girl in the Yellow Jumper by Netflix opens the world’s eyes to the potential of Ugandan filmmakers and artists.