An extraordinary story of a Ugandan pop-star politician who risks everything to take on a brutal autocrat, told with a rare and potent intimacy.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
At once astonishing, exhilarating and deeply moving, Bobi Wine: The People’s President charts the remarkable rise of pop-star-turned-charismatic leader of the Ugandan opposition movement. Despite intimidation, imprisonment and vicious state violence, Bobi—real name Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu—inspires millions to join in defiance of Yoweri Museveni, whose regime has gripped fiercely to power since seizing control in a 1986 coup.
The mass rallies on the campaign trail are breathtaking: “the promise is intoxicating,” as one reporter puts it. Propelled by a soundtrack of Bobi Wine’s afrobeat protest songs and spanning more than five years in the leadup to the 2021 election, directors Christopher Sharp and Moses Bwayo take us right to the heart of the exuberant, hazardous, indomitable action that surrounds the self-styled “ghetto president”. That proximity extends into the family home of Bobi, his inspirational wife Barbie Kyagulanyi, and their four children. Here the stakes of the mission take on an achingly intimate, affecting dimension. — Toby Manhire
“In the scope of other 2022 political documentaries, Bobi Wine: The People’s President has the most in common with Daniel Roher’s Navalny (NZIFF 2022), about a politician who ran against Putin… It has a similar, almost unbelievable, and powerful spirit of not giving in when governmental forces threaten you and rule with no control. This is a profile of unfathomable courage that deserves to be seen, in part to honour those who supported the film’s supply of footage and cannot be listed in the Credit for fear of repercussion. It is a testament to not giving up and the strength of a people united—not just by a song, but by a deep belief in a just future.” — Nick Allen, The Playlist