Seeing Amin's ghost as the red carpet unrolls in Kampala

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KAMPALA, Uganda -— This year, the Oscar buzz has made it all the way to Kampala.

On Saturday, Forest Whitaker, a leading contender for best actor, parted a crowd of paparazzi in front of a chic hotel here in Uganda’s capital, and he strutted down a red carpet for the official opening of “The Last King of Scotland.”

Official being the key word. Because the movie, about the blood-soaked reign of Uganda’s mercurial dictator, Idi Amin, actually arrived a few weeks ago, via bootlegged DVDs shipped in from China. It has already created quite a stir in Kampala’s tin-roofed video halls.

Ugandans are struck by Mr. Whitaker’s likeness to Amin, and moved by the scenes of an era they would like to forget. What is more, they are proud that one of this year’s surprise Hollywood hits is about their country, was filmed in their country and, now, nearly five months after its release in the United States, is finally being seen here.

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