Branwen Okpako’s ‘The Education of Auma Obama’ Featured During Filmmaker’s Five College Residency

AMHERST, Mass. – Filmmaker and installation artist Branwen Okpako will begin a three-day Five College residency on Thursday, April 3, hosted by the German and Scandinavian studies program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, along with the Five Colleges.

Screenings of two films, including “The Education of Auma Obama,” a portrait of President Barack Obama’s half-sister, will be free and open to the public. All films, when not in English, have English subtitles.

“The Education of Auma Obama” (2011) will be screened at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 5 at the Amherst Cinema. Admission is free, but tickets are required (at box office only; not available online). Although filmed mostly in Kenya, the work also returns to Heidelberg, Germany, where Auma Obama did graduate study.

On Friday, April 4, Okpako will present her film “Dirt for Dinner” (2000) at 1 p.m. in the Bill Brand Screening Room, Liebling Center for Film, Photography and Video, Room 120 at Hampshire College. No tickets necessary.

There will be a reception for Okpako at the Lord Jeffery Inn from 3:30 - 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 5.

Okpako will also join Barton Byg, professor of German and Scandinavian studies, and other scholars for a Five College Faculty Seminar in German Studies to discuss her most recent film, “The Curse of Medea.” That film, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February, engages with the East German author Christa Wolf and her feminist retelling of the classical narrative in “Medea – A Novel in Voices” (1996).

The residency is part of an ongoing graduate research emphasis on Black German history and culture within the German and Scandinavian studies program at UMass Amherst. Okpako last visited the Valley for the landmark “Remapping Black Germany” conference at UMass Amherst in 2006. At that time she presented her Dresden-based crime drama, “Valley of the Clueless” (2003).

Branwen Kiemute Okpako, born in 1969 in Lagos, Nigeria, studied political science in England and directing at the German Film and Television Academy. She has made films, video installations, and theatrical productions. Her films and videos have received numerous awards.

Her other films include: “The Pilot and the Passenger” (2007), “Tal der Ahnungslosen (2003), “LoveLoveLiebe” (1999), “Searching for Tahid” (1998), “Market Forces” (1998), “Landing” (1997) and “Vorspiel” (1995). Her video installations include, among others, “Christa/Christopher” (2013), “Theater: Schwarz Tragen” (2013), “Maggie Burns” (2009), “Scramble Quiz Video” (2008), “Das Singende Kamel” (2007), “Bloodknot” (2007) and “Seh ich was, was Du nicht siehst” (2002).

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