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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Uganda boosted by Amin film
Idi Amin
Amin gave the title 'Last King of Scotland' to himself
The Ugandan film industry has been given a great boost by the decision to make the film of Giles Foden's book The Last King Of Scotland in the country, its actors have said.

The film, which centres on the life of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, is currently in production in Kampala.

While it stars big-name Hollywood actors Gillian Anderson and Forest Whittaker, it also features a number of Uganda's top actors - such as Abbey

Mukiibi, who plays Masanga, Idi Amin's right-hand man.

"We needed something to show the world we can act," Mukiibi told BBC World Service's The Ticket programme.

"We saw this as a break for us Ugandan artists to go out onto the international scene and prove we can do it.

"We're also proud to be part of our history, proud to be doing something for the good of our nation, proud to be part of a cast featuring alongside international Hollywood stars.

"But the biggest thing was that we wanted to prove a point to people - that movies can be done be in Uganda."

Choosing Uganda

The "Last King" of the title is Amin, who had an abiding interest in Scotland.

He once appeared at a funeral in Saudi Arabia wearing a kilt, and even gave four of his children traditional Scottish names - Campbell, McLaren, McKenzie and Mackintosh.

John Smithson and Kevin MacDonald
The film is directed by Kevin MacDonald (right)
The story is told through the eyes of fictional character Nicholas Garrigan, Amin's personal physician, who took the job after Amin was involved in a minor freak car accident. Garrigan is played by James McAvoy.

Charles Mulekwa, who is consultant to director Kevin MacDonald on cultural issues, explained that Garrigan is a man who "has no idea where to stop.

"It's the story of life... he's climbing up the ladder on the back of a man who's becoming steadily problematic, steadily deranged."

Mulekwa, who writes plays himself, explained that he had strongly pushed for the film to be made in Uganda - as the producers were initially in favour of using South Africa instead.

He now hoped the country could be able to capitalise on the decision.

"But what we think is one thing, and what really happens is another," he added.

"I met the producer four years ago, and they were saying: 'Maybe Uganda - but most likely South Africa'.

"Logistically South Africa would have been much better for them - South Africa is way ahead of us in terms of filming and so on. But I kept arguing with them."

He explained that the decision was good economics for the country, and an opportunity for the artists involved.

The film would also show the wider world that Uganda has had "a difficult history - but we've moved on."

'Incredible' Whitaker

For those involved in the film who lived under Amin, such as Mukiibi, the film has had the potential to bring up unhappy memories of life under the dictator.

But he said that as an actor, it was important to "put your emotions aside and do your job.

Gillian Anderson
Gillian Anderson appears in the film as Sara Zach
"Unfortunately, there were some things that you would feel conflicting - but Charles has taken care of that, and taken care of the Ugandan interests."

Mulekwa said that it had been his role to "Africanise" the script so Ugandans were not offended, while remaining true to Foden's book.

"We Africans are proud of being Africans - we want a good image of ourselves, and we are going to fight for that image," he said.

"Even if you're going to show the negative, let it at least be factual - and not stereotypical, not assumed."

Meanwhile he praised American actor Forest Whitaker, star of films such as Phone Booth and Panic Room, who plays Amin in the film.

"When we met, I did panic a little - I thought, 'his accent is very American - how are we going to do it'," he said.

"But he kept saying: 'I will do this job.' And now, to hear him, is completely amazing.

"He's done incredible things."

Bringing history to the big screen
14 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
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08 Apr 04 |  Africa
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24 Aug 03 |  From Our Own Correspondent


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