Ugandan filmmaker Ashraf Simwogerere was kidnapped last week during the premiere of his new film Murder in the City. Apparently he disappeared before the screening ended, as he could not be located when he was called upon to address the audience. No need to worry, though, because he was found early Monday morning. His hands and legs had been bound and he was left on a railway line. But, he was discovered and taken to a local hospital, where he has been treated for dizziness and high blood pressure.

Here is what happened to him during the kidnapping: He was approached by someone pretending to be a fan who tricked him into entering a car. He was blindfolded and driven to an unknown place where he was locked inside a room. He was then ordered to hand over the script for the sequel to Murder in the City, which he didn't have. Not willing to give up on the idea, the kidnappers gave him a pen and paper and asked him to write the script out for them. He did. Finally, after making threats to the filmmaker's family, the kidnappers asked him to answer questions about a real-life murder case, which they assumed Murder in the City was based on. Simwogerere insisted that he knew nothing of that case and that his film had nothing to do with it. After being convinced that he told the truth, the kidnappers must have then ditched him on the railway line. The whole thing is rather confusing, though, because most reports claim that Murder in the City is actually based on the real-life case of the murder of lawyer Robinah Kiyingi -- enough for court officials to have attempted to get the film's production stopped. And Simwogerere reportedly won the right to base his film on the case. So, maybe he lied in order to save himself? Or, he was simply stating the obvious -- that a film based on a true story is not absolutely a true story.

I hate to laugh in the face of what was probably a tragic event for Simwogerere and his family, but this story is pretty ridiculous. So ridiculous, in fact, that I sincerely hope someone in Hollywood will jump on it and make it into a movie. They could describe it, perhaps, as "based on a true story about a movie that was thought to be based on a true story." It wouldn't be the first time we see a film that confuses fiction and reality in Uganda (see The Last King of Scotland). Of course, Hollywood wouldn't need to make the film a comedy, even if the story seems to welcome that approach. Because Simwogerere is alive and well, though, the story is not necessarily a tragedy in the way that, say, a film about Theo van Gogh would be. In case you aren't aware, van Gogh was another controversial filmmaker who was actually murdered because of his work.
categories Movies, Cinematical