ADONG JUDITH WINS THE PRINCE CLAUS AWARD
OSpecial ne of this year’s Prince Claus Award winners, Ugandan playwright and filmmaker Judith Adong, says she was inspired by the 1991 Zimbabwean film
directed by John Riber. “At the age of 13 after watching
I bacame obsessed with becoming a filmmaker because seeing Africans on the big screen was magical. For a long tim, I had imagined being in a film was a mzungu thing. let me know even I could make films, which at the time I didn’t even know was called filmmaking,” says Adong. Adong was awarded alongside seven cultural practitioners, a journal and an institution. The awards are organised by the Prince Claus Fund based in the Netherlands, and honour visionary individuals and organisations for groundbreaking work in fields of culture and development. Adong’s work raises public debate on contentious issues to provoke positive change. Her first play, reveals the terrors of Uganda’s 20-year conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army and challenges of the peace-building process, asking difficult questions about amnesty and forgiveness and confronting the public’s passivity and complicity. She brings the stories of vulnerable
Adong says she spent a good part of her life chasing the filmmaking dream, so much so that even when she was doing so well in the theatre programme that she ended up being admitted to Makerere University, she still dreamt of being in films. This dream came true when won a Fulbright Fellowship to study at Temple University’s MFA Filmmaking and Media Arts in the US.
“After that I was able to make some films, and I must admit that I find the rawness of theatre unmatched. Of course one cannot ignore the fact that film has more legs to travel, making it more far-reaching than theatre, especially for the kind of stories I tell.
“However, one thing that makes both film and theatre exciting for me, is simply the power of storytelling to humanise viewers. This is the heart of it for me,” she adds.
Adong is not a stranger to the Prince Claus Awards. She says: “When an award comes to you from an organisation you had applied to three times for production grants and only received rejections, words cannot even begin to explain how much it means. Now, they are recognising the power of the work I have done. My work has finally spoken to them and it is an exhilarating feeling.
“This is a huge boost to my energy which was already getting deflated and I was wondering if anybody really cares. But someone definitely cares, no matter how far away from home they are. This award is reassuring,” she further added.
“In a country where art and artists are not taken seriously, it is good to receive such a powerful validation and appreciation of my artistic work. There is a misconception that artists are not smart enough to represent citizens in places like parliament,” she said.