By Ogova Ondego
Published December 17, 2014
K3NT & KAT3, a full length fictional film based on a neurological disorder, is slated for release in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, in March 2015.
K3NT & KAT3 is the second feature film from the largely self-taught director Jayant Maru who is currently studying for a Bachelor’s degree in international relations at University Of London.
Maru, who says he was born in Kenya but is currently based in Uganda, says his filmmaking career was confirmed when he attended a film festival called Tongues on Fire in London.
“Throughout my youth, I had always wanted to be an actor, writer and filmmaker,” says the director whose THE ROUTE, a film based on human trafficking syndicate, has been widely screened and won several awards and nominations along the way.
Having won the best feature film award at Uganda’s 2nd Nile’s Diaspora International Film Festival in 2013, THE ROUTE, that premiered in Kampala in July 2013, was nominated for Best Feature Film (Uganda Film Festival 2013; Silicon Valley African Film Festival 2013; Manya Human Rights Film Festival 2013) and best production in the Diaspora (Kalasha Film & TV Awards 2014) and has been selected for screening at the Herat International Women’s Film Festival in 2015.
But Jayant Maru isn’t just a filmmaker; he is also an actor who debuted as a lead actor in a film called HANG OUT in 2012; that role, he says, earned him the nomination for Best Lead Actor at Pearl International Film Festival. This was just before he took to film directing with THE ROUTE in 2013.
Maru’s decision to direct film appears to be bearing dividends for him as THE ROUTE has not only been screened at the US Embassy in Kampala to a selected panel of civil society leaders but some partnership with International Organization for Migration (IOM) has also been forged and enabled THE ROUTE to be shown and discussed at Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign and workshop for youth in Uganda’s Jinja and Mbale districts.
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“I tend to work on films that have a social message or a human rights activism theme,” says Jayant Maru who describes himself as a filmmaker with a purpose.
And that purpose saw him invited to participate in International Visitor Leadership Programme 2014, an initiative of the US State Department in September 2014.
So what does it take to be an independent movie-maker in Uganda?
“Working as an independent filmmaker in Africa calls for an extra thick skin and loads of ingenuity,” Maru says with little hesitation. “Movie-making in not just Uganda but across Africa isn’t for the faint-hearted, considering the many obstacles one has to overcome in every aspect of the trade: lack of training opportunities, lack of funds, lack of professional skills, lack of distribution and exhibition structures, rampant piracy and non-existent film industry. Faced with obstacles of this nature, it takes a lot of passion and determination to keep at it.”
That passion and determination has seen Jayant Maru train in documentary filmmaking with Mira Nair’s Uganda-based Maisha Film Lab for South East Asians and East Africans.
The experiential skills this ‘filmmaker with a purpose’ has so far gained have been used in training some youth in Malawi in directing and acting, courtesy of Nigeria-based African Film Academy’s Film-in-a-Box initiative.
So, is Jayant Maru about to throw in the towel?
No way, he says.
“Every industry has its own set of challenges and the changes are happening; plus if one is passionate and loves what one does, then there is no stop to climbing the ladder,” Maru says.