Oscars: <I>Bobi Wine: The People's President</I> co-director Christopher Sharp
Marc Loftus
February 21, 2024

Oscars: Bobi Wine: The People's President co-director Christopher Sharp

Bobi Wine: The People's President is nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary Feature Film category. The National Geographic feature focuses on Bobi Wine, a Ugandan opposition leader, former member of parliament, activist and superstar musician, who risks his life to fight Yoweri Museveni’s regime. Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, changed Uganda’s constitution to enable him to run for another term. Wine uses his music to denounce the dictatorial regime and support his mission to defend the oppressed and the voiceless people of Uganda. 

Co-director Christopher Sharp is nominated for his work, along with Moses Bwayo and John Battsek, and says the team filmed for five years, amassing 4,000 hours of footage, including news and archive material. 

Christopher Sharp

“The principal photography for this documentary was a Sony A7 iii full frame and Sony FS7 super 35 digital camera with Sony G Master glass,” notes Sharp. “The A7iii was a great choice for its versatility while retaining great image quality in low light and highlights. In addition, we chose the FS7 for its unbeatable robust documentary abilities and image quality.”

A number of different camera operators contributed to the project, including Sam Benstead and Michele Sibiloni. 

“Moses was filming on the front line and took the most risk as things became increasingly perilous,” Sharp recalls. “The filming was dangerous and consuming, which allowed me to focus on developing the narrative. There are many stories we could have told, but after two years in the editing room with Paul Carlin, I think we reached a good place.” 

The team often shot on the fly as events unfolded, and consciously decided to carry as little equipment as possible.

“We lost mics and cameras as we progressed,” notes Sharp. “We had to smuggle the drives with the footage out of the country - an added stress with serious consequences to everyone's life and freedom…We were also constantly worried about the safety of Bobi and Barbie, and those around them.”

Security was one of the filmmakers’ main challenges, as they were under constant threat.

Moses Bwayo

“Moses was shot in the face and imprisoned,” says Sharp. “The filming environment was violent and threatening for the whole project. The other challenge was trying to tell such an enormous story over a long period, concisely. We decided, with my fellow producer John Battsek, that we wanted to keep the film under two hours. He helped us do that.”

Sharp and Paul Carlin handled the edit, spending one year viewing material and two years developing the cut.

“I was very keen to work with Paul because he was South African and understood Africa,” Sharp explains. “He edited one of my favorite documentaries, The Ghosts of Rwanda. He also had a good understanding of music — important, as we were making a film about a musician! John Battsek was incredibly helpful and committed. He has a wealth of experience and when you have a story as important as this, it matters a great deal.”

The film is currently screening in select theaters, as well as on Hulu and Disney+.