Hooray For Wakaliwood!
I’m tired of seeing worthy, earnest dramas this awards season. Sometimes you just want to see stuff blown up.
After Bollywood and Nollywood (Nigerian productions) we have Wakaliwood, Ugandan productions shot on half a shoestring, which somehow capture the free spirit of the 1970s cheapies from the Hollywood independents, the kind of films they used to show in double bills on 42nd Street. Not all these films are as entertaining as ‘Bad Black’ (‘My bums!’) and not all quirky films are low budget (or vice versa) but they are reminders of the kind of fare (especially East Coast blaxploitation films) we used to see in cinemas as kids.
I grew up watching appalling Europudding movies, badly dubbed, hilariously shot, but nothing ever approached the ineptitude of ‘The Room’ or the above, ‘Bad Black’. The difference was that ‘The Room’ became inexplicably cult while being entirely without merit, and ‘Bad Black’ is innocently delightful. After the arrival (and mercifully swift departure) of ‘Cats’ we now know that big movies can be horribly wrong too. And they’re not as much fun as this endlessly quotable fever dream.
Jumping as I do between world cinema and Hollywood nonsense, the first thing I always notice is the revenge motif, which is a constant plot motor in Hollywood films. I found it odd that no-one has mentioned the graphic violence toward women at the end of ‘Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood’ with Brad Pitt knocking a girl’s teeth out on a mantlepiece in a scene stolen from Dario Argento’s ‘Deep Red’, just because it is seen as just vengeance against evil people. Hollywood films can be insidiously conservative (Clint Eastwood’s ‘Richard Jewell’ is a perfect example).
‘Bad Black’ is like children playing games in a backyard, and either has its tongue in its cheek or is genuinely that innocent. The film can be found all over the internet – nobody cares if it’s pirated. Watch the trailer and you’ll see why.