Grantee Spotlight: IFP and Cathryne Czubek

After eight trips to Africa, independent filmmaker Cathryne Czubek has finally wrapped production on Lights Camera Uganda. Her documentary follows Isaac Nabwana, a former brick maker in the slums of Kampala harboring an unlikely dream of helming action movies. With scant resources beyond sheer will and creativity, Nabwana, Africa’s version of Quentin Tarantino, has made 46 pictures. Czubek’s film, directed and produced with Hugo Perez, follows the prolific Nabwana as fame finally catches up with him.

The filmmakers, who are starting postproduction, have found a swell of support for their work. They were selected for the Chicken and Egg Pictures Accelerator Lab, which provided funding and a yearlong mentorship for the project. Most recently, they were accepted to the prestigious IDFA Forum (International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam) to pitch the film to European and international buyers and, they hope, complete financing to finish the film. To that end, they’re also building on relationships formed from the 2016 IFP Market and 2017 Sheffield Documentary Market.

Czubek credits NYSCA for making it possible to get this far.

“NYSCA support was critical for our project. NYSCA was the first money in and we were able to leverage that into support from other funding organizations,” she said.

Lights Camera Uganda
Director of Photography Matt Porwoll captures a Wakaliwood action scene

She applied to NYSCA’s Individual Artist Program through IFP (the Independent Filmmaker Project), her fiscal sponsor. IFP also selected her film as one of 50 documentaries featured at IFP Week last year. 

Czubeck said she was drawn to Nabawana’s story for “the sheer joy of filmmaking expressed both in front of and behind the camera: from the homegrown way that props and film equipment are made from scrap metal and wood, to the intense devotion and commitment that every member of the cast and crew has to Isaac’s directorial vision, to the sheer adrenaline and humor that seeps out of the set-pieces Isaac creates in his films.”

Because of Nabwana, the down-and-out part of town where he lives and shoots, Wakaliga, has been nicknamed Wakaliwood.

Czubeck felt strongly about this unique and unconventional story of Africa. “It’s a story that could be comic and funny in spite of the serious underlying cultural history and issues it deals with,” she says.

—Dade Hayes

Cover image: Producer Cathryne Czubek on location in Uganda