A young woman living in Katanga turned to her local boxing gym after being brutally assaulted in her neighbourhood.
Katanga is photo series and docu-fiction featuring the female boxers of Katanga, one of the largest slums in Kampala. It is based on the true story of Hellen Baleke, a young woman living in Katanga who turned to her local boxing gym after being assaulted and nearly raped in her own neighbourhood. She went on to become the first female boxer in all of Uganda to compete professionally on an international level. Now Hellen and her group of female boxers act as protectors in Katanga, taking revenge on assaults in the slum when the police are too afraid to intervene.
The project was shot on a mix of 16mm, hi8 and digital on location in the slum of Katanga. I had read about Hellen’s story a year prior and was compelled to seek her out to make a film. Our film camera continued to jam in the environment as we ducked into peoples houses to clear jams and change rolls, trying hard to keep our equipment free from light, dust, and sweat while also doing our best to stay safe despite the physical dangers of the slum. For this project we put our faith into a 1970s Russian crank camera, and Katanga is the result of this analog process.
Katanga is a real thrill-beat docu-drama that shows perseverance, but mainly highlights the reality and tough living conditions of the Uganda slums – rather than the typical boxing training build ups. Hellen Baleke’s story certainly has much more depth to be scavenged, where we can easily see this story being developed into a feature length. For now the short 7 minutes is enough to inspire us through its unique photography and style.