Film Alert: The Education of Auma Obama


The Education of Auma Obama is a compelling character sketch of the internationally-educated half sister of President Barack Obama. Auma who currently resides back in Kenya, working with youth to encourage political and social engagement, carrying on the tradition of her Freedom fighter father. The film is useful in exploring post-colonial identity but messy in its construction, including several juxtapositions back and forth both geographically and temporally, often with a bit too much interest in the historic 2008 election of her half-brother.

Directed by a film school friend of Auma, Branwen Okpako traces the often not-so-linear roots of an education, particularly in Sub Saharan Africa. The film is not quite as powerful a portrait it might have been had its focus been slightly narrowed, then expanded on. Colonial African history is a complex and often charged obstacle to document. The best documentary I’ve ever seen is the highly condensed and subjective Cameroonian film Afrique, je Te plumerai (Africa, I Will Fleese You) by Jean-Marie Teno.

The film which premiered late last year at the Toronto Film Festival and has been making it rounds in various film festivals including the 19th Annual African Film Festival in New York this April.

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