Bobi Wine strategies in advance of the 2021 Ugandan election. Lookman Kampala

In 2017, African new music star Bobi Wine made a decision to run for his nearby parliamentary seat and won in 2023, he’s the deal with of Uganda’s National Unity System and the figurehead of the opposition to the country’s autocratic president, Yoweri Museveni. The Oscar-nominated Bobi Wine: The People’s President—which is already streaming but returns to theaters this weekend forward of the Academy Awards—tracks this unlikely but inspiring trajectory, 1 that speaks to an unshakeable faith in liberty and humanity despite the atrocities we inflict upon a single a different.

BOBI WINE: THE PEOPLE’S PRESIDENT ??? (3/4 stars)
Directed by: Christopher Sharp, Moses Bwayo
Starring: Bobi Wine, Barbie Kyagulanyi
Managing time: 114 minutes.


Bobi Wine (whose comprehensive name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu) embodies an aspirational story when the documentary crew’s cameras first discover him—he’s a profitable musician who focuses his lyrics on the plight of a lot of Ugandans, having occur from the ghetto and knowing poverty and instability firsthand. Previously footage from the mid-’10s finds him creating songs videos in these communities, people today of all ages flocking to him and singing together. When he finally decides to kick off his political occupation in 2017, it is no shock that he and his message of justice acquire assist. The electrical power of Bobi’s charisma and positivity radiates by means of the screen—this is a gentleman who unerringly believes in the prospective of the political course of action, and it plainly resonates with his people.

Bobi Wine campaigns during the 2021 presidential election. Lookman Kampala

When in business, even though, Bobi faces an uphill battle. President Museveni has absent from a groundbreaking (just one who Bobi ruefully suggests was when his favourite) to a dictator in every thing but title. He’s held on to energy since 1986, and Bobi enters Parliament as Museveni tries to go a new modification to clear away the constitution’s presidential age restrict and safe a different time period. It is right here that Bobi’s political enthusiasm actually kicks off, as he will make tunes about protecting Uganda’s constitution, calling rallies and attracting innumerable supporters. While the vote does not go his way, it only encourages him to make more sound. The subsequent months discover him traveling in assistance of opposition politicians and platforms across the country, and though he attracts in a lot of individuals ill of the establishment, he also attracts the ire of these in power.

It is intriguing to see somebody grow to be a chief and a image in actual time, which is what takes place to Bobi immediately after his rallies and protests close in military-led assaults and arrests. However the film touches on the condition-sponsored violence versus dissenters in advance of this position, it gets devastatingly serious the moment Bobi qualified prospects the demand. A pool of blood on the street clues you into how determined and violent items are about to get, as Bobi’s driver is shot and killed even though he finishes up staying arrested and positioned in a navy prison.

In times like these, when the filmmakers just cannot get to their subject matter, they permit information footage and recordings from a handful of daring individuals do the chatting. Bobi’s prison stint starts a vicious cycle wherein the Museveni routine assaults, accuses, and arrests him and his fellow opposition bash associates, the people protest in the road, and the army beats them down. The footage of this is generally shocking, usually devastating. 

Bobi Wine in a law enforcement arrest van right after he was arrested in Luuka district, Jap Uganda, and afterwards billed with spreading COVID-19, November 18, 2020. Lookman Kampala

The change in Bobi immediately after his arrest and torture is chilling, but the noticeable abuse he suffered doesn’t cease him from operating for president in what will conclusion up being a fraudulent election. His marketing campaign is marred by more condition violence and arrests, one particular of which sparks nationwide protests that stop with additional than 50 lifeless at the arms of the military. It’s brutal, awful organization, but, appreciably, it does not cease Bobi and his supporters.

Bobi Wine: The People’s President tracks this ongoing grassroots revolution, nevertheless it does so without the need of a limited grip on its timeline. The movie spends equal (or fewer) time on a span of months as it does a handful of days, with out producing that difference apparent. The operate up to the 2021 election feels primarily unmoored, with a single glaring error in the dates throwing off the importance of the second. There are beats that deficiency context, linked to the two the film alone and the higher Ugandan political method. The guy and the mission at the movie’s middle are all but unimpeachable, but the tale which is crafted about them has its good share of holes.

A quick online lookup can fill you in on the information following the documentary concludes, and while not a lot has changed, Bobi Wine: The People’s President serves as a important testomony to what film can do and what it can characterize. Barbie Kyagulanyi, Bobi’s wife and fellow political activist, has known as the cameras “a bulletproof jacket” for their spouse and children and their movement: “Whatever was going to take place there, we would have it recorded. And then at the very least we would know precisely how whatsoever happened, took place.” The energy of the camera is obvious as the documentary progresses, with videos shot by protesters and sympathizers ever more stoking the anger of the routine. 1 harrowing second finds a lady recording army officers march in the road beneath her office environment 1 of the gentlemen seems up, stares at her, and shoots—the faceless woman moves absent just in time. Ugandan director Moses Bwayo was beaten, shot, and arrested above the study course of filming he’s now trying to get asylum in the U.S. 

The violence captured on digital camera is hard to check out, but the importance of it getting on digicam and broadcast throughout the earth is a key earn for Bobi and his bash. The footage is daring, dangerous filmmaking, and nevertheless it reveals some of humanity’s cheapest impulses, Bobi’s ultimate concept of optimism for Uganda’s long term shines by way of.


Observer Critiques are standard assessments of new and noteworthy cinema.

‘Bobi Wine: The People’s President’ Review: A Daring Document of Resistance