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The Education of Auma Obama

One branch of President Obama's fascinating family tree reveals its own compelling story in Branwen Okpako's "The Education of Auma Obama." Born of the same father but raised by a different mother in the family's Kenyan homeland, Obama's half-sister Auma describes a life of intellectual inquiry and social activism that mirrors the future president's. Blessed with remarkable access to the Obamas during the 2008 election, the modestly made docu has little style but is engaging enough to lure fest interest and tube buyers.

One branch of President Obama’s fascinating family tree reveals its own compelling story in Branwen Okpako’s “The Education of Auma Obama.” Born of the same father but raised by a different mother in the family’s Kenyan homeland, Obama’s half-sister Auma describes a life of intellectual inquiry and social activism that mirrors the future president’s. Blessed with remarkable access to the Obamas during the 2008 election, the modestly made docu has little style but is engaging enough to lure fest interest and tube buyers.

Auma’s tale begins with mother Kezia, who recalls her 1965 meeting with her eventual husband, Barack; his father was a tough taskmaster, but provided a standard of living above those of most neighbors. Auma’s viewpoint on her father’s departure to America, and the new life he made for himself, is colored with pain, but the separation was eventually healed with her half-brother’s Kenyan visit (shown in some lovely homemade footage of a younger Obama, later revisiting with wife Michelle). Auma’s university years in Heidelberg and eventual teaching career prove to be personal triumphs, making pic a positive study in female African achievement.

The Education of Auma Obama

Docu - Germany

  • Production: A Filmkantine presentation in co-production with ZDF/Das Kleine Fernsehspiel and Branwen Okpako. Produced by Katrin Springer, Volker Ullrich. Directed, written, edited by Branwen Okpako.
  • Crew: Camera (color/B&W, HD), Kolja Brandt; music, Jean-Paul Bourelly. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Real to Reel), Sept. 13, 2011. Running time: 80 MIN.
  • With: With: Auma Obama, Kezia Obama, Elke Brenstein, Marsat Osumba Onyango. (English, German, Luo dialogue)
  • Music By: