As a young filmmaker passionate about telling important stories, I embarked on a journey to create a short film that would shed light on the impact of HIV/AIDS in our society. The result was “Maama Wange,” a powerful and emotional film that recently won the prestigious Ikon Awards in the Film & Television category.
Today, I want to share my journey with you – from the initial idea to the triumphant moment of winning the award. It all started with a deep desire to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. I was inspired by the stories of individuals who have faced the challenges of living with HIV/AIDS, as well as the stigma and discrimination that often accompany it. I wanted to create a film that would humanise the issue and encourage empathy and understanding.
I am Doreen Mirembe, and my love for film has been a lifelong passion. During my time in secondary school, I received numerous awards for my participation in music competitions. However, my mother had different aspirations for me, and she wanted me to become a journalist rather than pursue a career in the movie industry. Out of respect for her hard work and sacrifices to send me to school, I sometimes had to prioritise my studies to make her happy. Unfortunately, this led to a loss of motivation when I entered secondary school.
Upon obtaining a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Ndejje University, I made the decision to pursue a career in film with the assistance of my friend, Masadde Issa Yusuf. Despite my efforts to write scripts and pitch my ideas, success eluded me. Then in July 2022, the Ikon Awards announced that they were accepting submissions from young filmmakers for their scripts and budget proposals. Despite feeling unsure about my chances, I decided to try my luck and submitted my 25th script to the competition. To my surprise, on August 9th at 6pm, I received a congratulatory message from the Ikon team. Although I had never anticipated going through, the journey with Ikon had begun, and I have no regrets, only gratitude.
Participating in the Young Filmmakers Fellowship program was an incredible experience for me, as I got to connect with other individuals who shared a similar passion for film. The master classes offered as part of the fellowship were truly enlightening, as I had the opportunity to meet and learn from respected professionals in the film industry whom I had always admired. We delved into various aspects of film production, including script writing, directing, videography, sound, and more. What made it even more interesting was that we were tasked with creating short films that highlighted the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) challenges faced by young people in Uganda. This opened up a new perspective for me, and I learned a great deal about this important topic. Once the master classes concluded, I began working on my short film, “Maama Wange.” Although it was challenging, the mentorship and guidance from the master classes played a pivotal role in my journey.
“Maama Wange” tells the story of a single mother who has faced sexual harassment, rape, and is living with HIV. She struggles to raise her child in a poverty-stricken ghetto in Namuwongo. Despite encountering numerous challenges along the way, with the help of the master classes I attended, I was able to produce a compelling film called “Maama Wange,” of which I am immensely proud. Drawing from my own background, this film aims to educate, entertain, sensitise, motivate, and encourage single mothers around the world. It portrays the daily struggles, pain, and hustle that single mothers endure, but also emphasises the importance of not giving up. I am thrilled that my message has resonated with many people, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share this story through my film.
On March 25th, 2023, the day of the final announcement for the Ikon Fellow of the Year award, I experienced a whirlwind of emotions. For almost an hour, I felt like I was not myself, and the moment I was announced as the winner, I was overwhelmed with joy. It felt like a miracle from God. I had fasted and prayed for this award and despite facing doubts and criticism from others who didn’t believe in me and my work, I persevered. I put in a lot of effort, time, and money into my film “Maama Wange,” using the knowledge and social capital I gained from Director Nabwiso and my involvement with Sauti, including investing $500 grant. Winning the award has added so much to my journey and has made me realise that I am capable of achieving even more.
I want to use this win to inspire other young women filmmakers and those with dreams of making it in the industry. I have big plans ahead, including producing a feature film version of “Maama Wange.” My goal is not only to win more awards but also to educate, motivate, sensitise, and promote our culture through my work. I hope to connect with prominent filmmakers, both nationally and internationally, as my passion and dream lie in filmmaking. I am determined to continue pushing boundaries and making a meaningful impact through my films.
I am incredibly grateful to Reach A Hand Uganda, SautiPlus Media Hub and UNESCO for their unwavering belief in me and their invaluable support throughout the journey of producing my short film, “Maama Wange.” Their dedication and guidance have been instrumental in bringing this project to life and raising awareness about HIV/AIDS. From the initial concept to the final production, Reach A Hand Uganda and UNESCO have been by my side every step of the way, providing resources, expertise, and encouragement. I am deeply thankful for their partnership and their commitment to creating positive change through film. Together, we have made a meaningful impact in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and reducing stigma surrounding the disease. I am honoured to have had the opportunity to work with such esteemed organisations, and I look forward to continuing our collaboration in future endeavours.
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Humphrey Nabimanya, Mathew Nabwiso, my team, and everyone who supported me along this journey. I am especially grateful to my mother for her unwavering prayers. This win is dedicated to all young women out there. I want to encourage you to believe in yourself and seize every opportunity that comes your way. We are capable of achieving our dreams, and with determination and perseverance, we can make our mark in any industry. Thank you for your support and belief in me.