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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 February 2007, 13:35 GMT
Ugandan premiere for Last King
By Sarah Grainger
BBC News, Kampala, Uganda

Forest Whitaker at Kampala news conference
Whitaker has already won a Bafta for his role
The film The Last King of Scotland has been given a resounding thumbs up by the audience at its premiere in Uganda. The film is set during the regime of the former dictator Idi Amin and was mostly filmed on location in the capital Kampala.

American actor Forest Whitaker, who has been nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of the former president, was in town for the screening.

A troop of Ugandan drummers and dancers greeted the director and stars of the film at the shopping centre that houses Kampala's main cinema.

The red carpet was candle-lit and strewn with red petals. The guests, including President Yoweri Museveni, were dressed in their finest attire.

The film is the fictional story of a young Scottish doctor working in Uganda, who unexpectedly finds himself selected by Idi Amin to serve as his personal doctor. As Dr Garrigan succumbs to the extravagances of palace life, he also becomes an eyewitness to the brutality of Amin's regime.

Many of the cast and crew were hired locally. Stephen Rwangyezi plays Amin's Health Minister Jonah Wasswa.

"I actually didn't want to participate in the film if it was going to portray Amin as just another African monster," he said. "The cliches about African problems are annoying.

"But the fact that the film examines the circumstances that brought Amin to power was exciting."

'Healing process'

The assistant art director for the film, Frederick Mpuuga is too young to remember Amin - he was born after the dictator had been removed from power in 1979. But he thought the film was phenomenal.

James McAvoy (left) one of the stars of Last King of Scotland, watches the Ugandan traditional dancers as he arrives for the premiere in Kampala
Actor James McAvoy watches traditional dancers at the premiere
"The film makes me feel as if I've lived through that period in history, even though I've never been there. The adrenaline is really running through my veins now," he said.

"It's a movie, so it's not entirely accurate," said Robie Kokongay, a Ugandan-born American who fled the Amin regime in 1977. "But it raises all those feelings that we had at the time and so it's an important part of the healing process."

Aishwa, an Asian who came to Uganda in 1985, thought the film was excellent.

"It might help the world realise that more Ugandans suffered under Idi Amin than Asians or British," he said.

Frederick Mpuunga
Frederick Mpuung, the assistant art director, was born after Amin's rule
Uganda is hoping its brush with celluloid stardom will pay off. Despite the sometimes horrific subject matter of the film, it is hoped that the Last King of Scotland will be a showcase for the country.

"Uganda will get tourists, because the photography in the film is beautiful, and I'm sure more films will be made here," said John Nagenda, a senior presidential adviser who helped bring the production crew to Uganda at the beginning of the project.

"Also, it's a good thing for our actors. They have been given a platform from which to demonstrate their talent."

The film opens on general release in Uganda on 23 February, just two days before Forest Whitaker will find out if he has won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Idi Amin.

President Museveni of Uganda praises the film

Actor Whitaker on 'finding' Amin
25 Jan 07 |  Entertainment
Uganda boosted by Amin film
15 Jul 05 |  Africa
Amin movie premieres in Toronto
13 Sep 06 |  Entertainment


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