Revellers watching the Euro Uganda Film Festival 2018 in Kampala ©

British Council Uganda

The Euro-Uganda Film Festival 2018: why bother?

A film festival is a bunch of extended presentation of films. I can tell you this was more than just that. It was a celebration of cultural heritage, a hub of social networking, partying and discussing pressing issues and new horizons of the film industry in Uganda. The 4th edition of the Euro Ugandan Film Festival (EUFF) was unlike previous festivals. Robust engagement across Ugandan youth audiences with a mixture of expatriates flocking 7 venues across Kampala City to enjoy an array of 11 European features and 10 Ugandan short films over ten days. Organised by the British Council in Uganda with support from the European Union Delegation in Uganda, the EUFF reached thousands of film lovers with an exciting programme including panel discussions, keynote addresses, cocktail parties and of course the films, all open to the public free-of-charge from 10 – 20 June 2018.

For the British Council in Uganda, this year's festival was key. A challenge for us to show our skills and competence to successfully organise and market the different events of the festival. Not only were the various events a phenomenal hit, but the larger film festival lived up to the expected hype, thanks to the marketing and communications on our social media pages and the resourcefulness of the organising team.

“It was a challenging but fulfilling task getting the eleven missions of the participating EU member states to submit all the requirements for the film festival on time, including the films, approval of promotional materials and the related rigors”, says Polly Kamukama, the official festival curator who is also being officially mentored by Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle (an initiative to support local talent development).

During major events in the past year, we have experience a growing trend of our brand seeing a boost in followers on Facebook and Twitter as fans check scenes in the pictures of different events and promotional content shared. This year’s EUFF made it even bigger.

The EUFF2018 was launched with an outstanding press conference graced by the EU Delegation in Uganda Charge D’affaires, participating member states, the British Council Uganda Director and different media houses ranging from print, online to broadcast. This created wider awareness well ahead of the actual kick-off of the festival. Additionally, during the festival, the British Council Country Director, Fiona Inci was interviewed by NBS Television, one of the most watched local stations. The film festival drew several media contacts for the British Council and as a result, two news stories about the festival were published in top newspapers.

On social media, the British Council Uganda Facebook account grew by 1000 followers in just 11 days of promoting the film festival and the posts throughout the film festival reached 165,000 people with over 17,500 engagements from that online audience. The @Ugbritish Twitter page had its largest growth of audience reach over the past year during this film festival period with 51,000 impressions.

The British Council in Uganda also took over the management of the official Euro Uganda Film Festival Facebook page for the duration of the festival and the social media engagement numbers did not disappoint either. There was a surge in the number of people who visited the page daily as the film festival content started trickling in on the page. The 10 posts over the film festival period reached over 70,000 people while the page followers increased with 555 new followers over the same period.
The secret in this was tagging the different social media pages of the participating European Union member states and other interested parties that kept sharing these posts with their own followers. British Council staff also shared these promotional posts on their individual social media pages which extended the reach of the messages.

From my own perspective, this experience has come with lots of learning about marketing and communications. First, social media is proving to be the most efficient way to reach larger audiences whilst maximising minimal resources. For instance, when I look at this year’s film festival social media campaign, there are two perspectives, the ‘organic’ end, which included natural posts and comments from different people and the ‘paid-for’ side which included boosted posts. Facebook’s advertising platform also proved invaluable in terms of channelling promotional content about the festival to the specific targeted audiences.

One or two things I took away on 20 June when the film festival ended; while it's great to have social media marketing tools and solutions like these, ultimately, the key to being successful in organizing and promoting a successful event doesn't only lie in the resources you have. Instead, success is about your resourcefulness as individuals and if there is anything that brought out this resourcefulness of British Council Uganda’s staff, it was the Euro Uganda Film Festival 2018. End of story.