The short story, courtesy of the film’s website, reads – Felistas is cursed. She stinks. No one can stand to stay near her. This causes her to separate from her family and live as a lonely outcast in an abandoned house. But one day, a witchdoctor finds a solution. A cry-baby man can inherit the smell from her. Felistas is hesitant to grab the opportunity, because she does not want another person to live through the pain that she has, but she longs to reunite with her husband and child. So she kidnaps such a man, Dan, who is a virgin desperate to get married. However, Dan recently got a job that makes him very rich. This attracts the attention of Kate, a gold-digging woman who he has wooed for a long time, and that of a corrupt cop, Jomba, who frames him for murder in an extortion scheme. As Felistas races against time to deliver Dan to the witch and win back her husband’s love, it turns into a high-energy chase with a voluptuous Kate and a trigger-happy Jomba hot on her tail.
Produced, directed and written by Dilman Dila, The Felistas Fable stars Veronica Namanda are the title character, Isaac Kuddzu as Dan, Tibba Murungi as Kate, and Gerald Rutaro as Jomba the corrupt cop.
The film was made under the Maisha Film Lab – the initiative founded in 2004 by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Salaam Bombay!, Mississipi Masala & others) in Uganda, to provide film training for local aspiring filmmakers in the East African country. The goal is to give these young filmmakers the tools & knowledge to tell their own stories through film, which would then help foster a self-sustaining film industry in Uganda and vicinity, that will support and represent the interests of local audiences.
The filmmaker calls it a folk tale, a modern day version of Beauty and the Beast. And further still…
I thought retelling that European fairytale in my home country would not only take us back to a time in African history that is lost forever, but also be symbolic of the foreign forces that destroyed that past and shaped this present. Nowhere is this evident as in the quest of African women to attain a beauty as defined by European colonialists. They look at their curly hair and dark skins, and then at the women on TV, and they don’t feel beautiful. They spend a great percentage of their income to make their hair look like that of white people, to bleach their skin using creams and chemicals that are expensive, addictive, dangerous to health and cause permanent skin damage. The resultant ailments have a high cost of treatment, and reduce labor hours (the women cannot stay long in the sun) and productivity. Some men, the most famous being Didier Drogba, have started making their hair long and straight too. Monsters do not exist in our world anymore, but there are millions of African women who, after they develop fistula, a condition that gives them an unbearable smell, lose their marriages and cannot find love. They are forced to live as outcasts. I had such a woman in mind while making The Felistas Fable.
Currently traveling the international film festival circuit, here’s the trailer for The Felistas Fable: