sayyid azim/associated press


Actor Forest Whitaker answers questions during the premiere of the The Last King Of Scotland, in Kampala, Uganda, on Saturday. The film portrays the rule of dictator Idi Amin.


Forest Whitaker said Saturday his portrayal of Idi Amin in the award-winning movie The Last King Of Scotland was made stronger by filming in Uganda, where more than 500,000 people disappeared during the brutal dictator’s rule.

Whitaker, who has been nominated for an Academy Award, returned to the country for the East Africa premiere of the film at a Kampala cineplex Saturday night. The cast and crew were welcomed by traditional drummers wearing black and white monkey-skin headdresses and members of the country’s elite, many dressed in tartan.

Whitaker said making the film in Uganda allowed him “to be surrounded by people who have experienced Amin, who knew the situation emotionally and internally.”

“All of the people were helpful in trying to guide us to the truth,” he added.

The Last King Of Scotland is the first Hollywood movie to be filmed on location in Uganda and won best British film at this year’s British Academy Film Awards.

It deals with the fictional relationship between Amin and his Scottish doctor during the darkest years of the dictator’s rule in the 1970s.

Amin’s secret police force was notorious for torturing and killing Ugandans they believed to be political opponents.

The death toll from Amin’s regime will never be accurately known but rights groups estimate a half-million people disappeared.

Many Ugandans are eagerly awaiting the general release of the film scheduled for later this month. Ishmail Ssemamba, who runs a movie-rental kiosk in one of Kampala’s suburbs, said he has been inundated by questions about it.

“I watched them filming some scenes and Whitaker was exactly like Amin,” he said. “What was good is that he made him into a human being, not just a monster. Amin cared about Uganda and Ugandans.”

“He did many good things for our country but people just remember the blood.”