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Who Am I in the Forest?

Who Am I in the Forest explores the identity of the forest in relation to the filmmaker himself. It looks at the different facets of the forest - animals, birds, plants, insects and streams, as well as the threat of destruction to make way for more farmland. It was recorded entirely on a mobile phone.

Who Am I in the Forest is a short experimental nature documentary about the Mabira forest reserve in Buikwe District, Uganda. It was made in the course of a filmmaking workshop that was part of a larger skills and creativity building project involving young people from several high schools in the area, run by Professor Jane Plastow from Leeds University, UK.

  • Najib Kiirya Mukama
  • Najib Kiirya Mukama
  • Valentina Tschismarov
  • Matylda Wierietielny
  • Jane Plastow
  • Najib Kiirya Mukama
  • Valentina Tschismarov
  • Bernard Muyambi
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short, Student
  • Genres:
    documentary, nature, wildlife, experimental documentary
  • Runtime:
    9 minutes 24 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 17, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Masese Seed School
Director Biography - Najib Kiirya Mukama

Mukama Kiirya Najib was born in 2006 as the youngest of three siblings. He lives in Eastern Uganda, where he currently attends high school. He started watching movies at a young age, and realising that the film industry in Uganda is still weak, he became increasingly interested in film making. He decided that if he ever got an opportunity to train in filmmaking he would take it, and go on to help advance the film industry in Uganda. He wants to use film to expose different issues and hardships that Ugandan people encounter.

Najib learnt how to make films when he was selected to participate in an arts camp in 2022, which was run by Professor Jane Plastow as part of a larger project funded by Leeds University. There he learned the basics of filmmaking. He was then selected to participate in an advanced filmmaking workshop in 2023, where workshop facilitators Valentina Tschismarov and Matylda Wierietielny worked with him and 4 other young people to produce videos about any area of their interest. While the rest of the participants decided to work as a group to produce their documentary, Najib had a strong vision from the beginning, and wanted to create his own piece about the Mabira forest. Inspired by an initial trip that all the young people and facilitators involved in the arts camp took to the forest together, Najib came up with creative visuals and wrote a powerful and evocative voice over to express his vision. The film was screened at the end of the arts camp to parents and other visitors.

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Director Statement

"Who Am I in the Forest?" is a meditative exploration of the Mabira forest, a natural reserve that is home to a rich and diverse ecosystem. Through a series of creative and often long-held shots, the film invites the viewer to immerse themselves in the textures, colours, and life of the forest. The absence of dialogue allows the sounds of the forest to take center stage, which weave together with PlantWave's unique music using the biorythm of mushrooms as well as traditional Ugandan music by Bernard Muyambi, to create a soundscape that transports the viewer into a different world.

The extreme close-ups used throughout the film reveal the intricate details of the forest's flora and fauna, highlighting the beauty and complexity of the natural world. The film's slow and deliberate pace allows the viewer to contemplate the forest's majesty and their own place within it.

The voice-over narration provides a poetic and philosophical perspective on the relationship between humans and nature, inviting the viewer to reflect on their own connection to the natural world. The film's title, "Who Am I in the Forest?", poses a fundamental question about identity and belonging that resonates with viewers long after the film has ended.

Ultimately, "Who Am I in the Forest?" is a tribute to the beauty and wonder of nature, and a call to action to preserve and protect it for future generations.