Wakaliwood, also known as Ramon Film Productions, is a film studio based in Wakaliga, a slum in Uganda's capital of Kampala. Its founder and director is Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey Nabwana, a.k.a. Nabwana IGG, who has been called Uganda's Tarantino, after the gratuitous violence in his films. Wakaliwood is best known for its ultra-low budget (estimated to be in the region of $200) ultra-violent movies, such as Who Killed Captain Alex?, Bad Black, Tebaatusasula, and the upcoming crowdsourced film Tebaatusasula: Ebola.
Isaac Nabwana spent his childhood during the brutal regime of Idi Amin in the 1970s. While the rest of Uganda was stricken with violence and ethnic cleansing, the farmland that Nabwana's grandfather owned was relatively peaceful. His inspirations for filmmaking came from reruns of Hawaii Five-O and Logan's Run, as well as his love of Hollywood action movies and martial arts films from his childhood. As he had never been in a theatre, he relied mostly on his brothers and friends' descriptions of films that were just released theatrically. In 2005, after taking a computer course on video editing and watching video tutorials on filmmaking, Nabwana founded Ramon Film Productions, naming it after his grandmothers Rachael and Monica.
Alan Hofmanis, a film festival director based in New York City, traveled to Uganda after a friend who worked at an NGO showed him a trailer for Who Killed Captain Alex? on YouTube. After meeting Nabwana and producing a documentary on Ramon Film Productions, Hofmanis has since moved to Uganda to help promote Wakaliwood cinema worldwide. He was also given a starring role in Nabwana's 2016 film Bad Black and has been called "the first Mzungu Ugandan action movie star."
The studio makes props and jibs out of DIY parts, which commentators have compared to the early days of Hollywood. Among the studio's props is a full sized helicopter frame that has become a staple in all Wakaliwood films. Nabwana shoots and edits his films using old computers that he assembles. Squibs used to simulate gunshot wounds are made from condoms filled with red food coloring and tied to fishing lines before being taped to the actors' chests; Nabwana previously used cow blood, but was forced to discontinue it after one of his actors developed tetanus.
In Uganda, audiences go to video halls where VJs narrate over a feature film, translating the dialogue and adding their own commentary – making low budget films with VJ commentary like cult films.
On March 2, 2015, Wakaliwood set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise US$160 for the film Tebaatusasula: Ebola. The studio was able to receive over US$13,000 from 374 backers by April 1. Tebaatusasula: Ebola serves as the direct sequel to Who Killed Captain Alex? and a remake of the 2010 film Tebaatusasula, which was lost after a massive power surge destroyed the hard drive that contained the film. In September of that year, the Wakaliwood crew attended the Nyege Nyege International Music Festival in Jinja and spent two days shooting Attack on Nyege Nyege with the festival attendees as extras.
Bad Black was a critical and audience favorite at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2017. The film earned an encore presentation on the last day of the festival, making the total number of screenings four. The Seattle audience question and answer session with the director was on Skype.
- Valentine: Satanic Day (2010)
- Tebaatusasula (2010; lost film)
- Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010)
- The Return of Uncle Benon (2011)
- Rescue Team (2011)
- Bukunja Tekunja Mitti: The Cannibals (2012)
- Black: The Most C.I.D. Wanted (2012)
- The Crazy World: A Waka Starz Movie (2015)
- Bukunja Tekunja Mitti: The Cannibals (2015)
- The Revenge (2015)
- Attack on Nyege Nyege Island (2016)
- Bad Black (2016)
- Once a Soja (Agubiri The Gateman) (2017)
- Operation Kakongoliro! The Ugandan Expendables (upcoming)
- Eaten Alive in Uganda (upcoming)
- Tebaatusasula: Ebola (upcoming)
- Revenge 2 (upcoming)
- Plan 9 From Uganda (working title)
- Benon (unknown date)
- Ejjini Kyaalo (unknown date)
- Ejjini Lye Ntwetwe (unknown date)
- Juba: The Snake Girl (unknown date)
- Night Dancers: Fueled by Meat, Driven by Blood (unknown date)
- "Nabwana I.G.G." IMDB.
- "Uganda's Tarantino and his $200 action movies". BBC News.
- "Uganda's Slum Tarantino". BBC. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
- Noy, Frédéric (13 July 2018). "Inside Wakaliwood: Kampala's action movie studio". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- Schiraro, Stefano (8 March 2018). "Wakaliwood: The cinematic dream of a Ugandan slum". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- "The New Wave of Ultra-Violent Ugandan DIY Action Cinema - VICE". Vice. 29 April 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
- McPheeters, Sam (3 March 2015). "A Ugandan Filmmaker's Quest to Conquer the Planet with Low-Budget Action Movies - VICE". Vice. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
- "Wakaliwood: The Documentary (2012)". IMDb.
- "Coming to you live". The Economist. 2 November 2012.
- "Help Build a Ugandan Action Movie Studio". Wakaliwood via Kickstarter. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- Attack on Nyege Nyege Island. Wakaliwood via YouTube. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- "Nyege Nyege international music festival to be held in Jinja". New Vision. 5 October 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- "'Bad Black': Seattle International Film Festival movie review". Escape Into Film. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
- Mudede, Charles (25 May 2017). "SIFF Review: Bad Black Is a Wakaliwood Masterpiece". The Stranger. Retrieved 10 May 2019.