That Small Piece

Genre : Drama
Type : Fiction
Column : Cinema/tv
Year of production : 2011
Format : Feature


The Ugandan director Joseph Kenneth Ssebaggala, alias JOSEph S KEN, once heard from a former witch doctor how this man was highly respected in society and, like a god, was asked to solve all problems.

Ssebaggala's second no-budget film That Small Piece is based on a true story from 1992, when a quarrel about a piece of land acquired illegally was solved with witchcraft. The heart of the drama is a story reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet about two lovers who are driven apart by a conflict about a plot of land. The young man goes mad after being subjected to witchcraft and the quarrel gets out of hand.

Witchcraft is still widely used in Uganda to solve conflicts. With his simply told and locally produced film, shot around the town of Nsangi in the Wakiso District, Ssebaggala wants to show that many lives could be spared if people were to approach official organisations instead of the miracle man.


Programmer Note by Gertjan Zuilhof:


This film is exceptional for what it isn't. It isn't - like almost all contemporary African productions - a clone of Nigerian soap melodrama. It isn't a style of filmmaking that tells the story using a plethora of explanatory dialogue and emphasises emotions with extreme overacting and continuous loud music.

Here there is scant, simple, appropriate dialogue. The acting is far from professional, but is poised and basically natural. The use of music is modest and in line with the local mood.

This production was shot in a natural, rural location and makes excellent use of natural light. Or course it was made with very limited means, however the filmmaker proves to have been very aware of this and allows the rich, green surroundings to shine as the only sign of riches.


Very simply a story about a quarrel between neighbours about a small piece of land. Made with next to nothing. Not even a low budget. The film maker puts out an appeal in Rotterdam to collect some second-hand film equipment. Maybe his next film really will be a low-budget film.

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