27 Guns is Natasha Museveni’s adaptation of the five-year civil war that led to Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement seizing power to rule the east African country, which it has been doing since 1986. The movie, shot over 90 days from 8 August 2017, has been described by its cast as “intensely gruelling”. It was shot in Mpigi/Singo, Buikwe and Kampala.
The film’s synopsis describes 27 Guns as follows: “A biopic based on true events of Uganda’s liberation struggle. It tells the story of a young man and his unlikely group of young idealists who leave all to fight for salvation of a nation. They set off with little more than discipline and courage, buoyed by the indomitable spirit of an oppressed people, and launched a protracted guerrilla war.”
The film’s trailer is captioned by a verse from Isaiah 60: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”
27 Guns stars Arnold Mubangizi as Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Diana Museveni Kamuntu as Janet Kataha Museveni and Sezi Jedediah Nuwewenka as Salim Saleh.
“When they said I would play the president, I became nervous. I started doubting my abilities and thought they had chosen me for the role only because of my close resemblance to the president during the early 1980s,” lead actor Mubangizi told the Daily Monitor newspaper. He added that he was allowed to spend time with President Museveni to help him connect and ease into the role.
At the launch of the movie on 9 September, President Museveni was in attendance and told press that the movie was a reminder of his youth. “I thank my daughter Natasha for reminding me of my story and also for bringing me back to the cinema. It has been 49 years since I have been to the cinema and here I am, because of 27 Guns.”
Reviews so far suggest that 27 Guns is delivering the goods. “27 Guns brings to life the reality in a sharp, 3D picture. The suspense, the suffering, the sometimes seemingly hopeless situations, the fear, the odds and the grim reality on both sides of the protagonists, i.e. the National Resistance Army and Uganda National Liberation Army. This is a riveting plot,” wrote the Kampala Post newspaper.
It added, however, that the film “should have captured the piping ceremony at Lubiri in 1988, when NRA got their formal ranks. It was a colourful parade with the late President Habyarimana as guest of honour”.