A Conversation with Branwen Okpako

Branwen, could you first talk a bit about yourself, your background, how you developed the desire to make films? 

My name is Branwen Okpako and I was born in Lagos, Nigeria to a Nigerian (Uhrobo) pharmacologist father and a Welsh librarian mother. My younger brother and I had a happy childhood on the beautiful campus of the University of Ibadan.
I later attended Atlantic College in Wales where I completed my International Baccalaureate, before going to University of Bristol where I studied politics. After that I came to Berlin to study at the DFFB (German Film and Television Academy), here I met Tsitsi Dangarembga, Wanjiru Kinyanjui and Auma Obama.
I have stayed in Berlin where I continue to make films and raise my children.
The decision to study film came from a desire to combine all my passions: painting, telling stories and directing actors, all of which I had enjoyed doing since I was very young. Storytelling runs in our family. My father‘s brother Kpeha was a famous poet of Udje. Film seemed to synthesize these loves and has brought an added element that I didn’t know about before—montage (which is the poetry of film).
More here.

I met her last night in my hangout, Mokkabar. Very charming woman. She told me that she was flying to Toronto today (Thursday) to present her latest film at the Toronto Film Festival. I’m wishing her all the best!


Welcome to Sweet Home Style: Caravan for One, Please: Hotel Hüttenpalast in Berlin



by Heather Summerville (Brooklyn)

Image source: Hotel Hüttenpalast

How cool is this? The Hotel Hüttenpalast has turned the sprawling first floor of a former vacuum factory into a makeshift indoor campground, where instead of hotel rooms, you reserve very own old-school caravan for a night. (It’s like the grown-up version of having a tent in your room as a kid.) Each of the little suites on wheels is decorated in a different theme, from the bohemian Kleine Schwester (Little Sister) to the retro, tin-roofed Heartbreaker. Plus, there’s an on-site café and garden with rotating art exhibits. Accommodations start at a wallet-friendly 40 euros a night, making this my hands-down favorite spin on the affordable boutique hotel trend.


Welcome to Sweet Home Style: Caravan for One, Please: Hotel Hüttenpalast in Berlin


Brothers and Sisters creative team Lisa Jelliffe and Kirsten Rutherford have teamed up with the anonymous German street art collective Mentalgassi, to create art installations for Amnesty International. ‘Making the invisible visible’ highlights the case of Troy Davis, a man who has been on death row for 19 years in the USA, despite serious doubts about his conviction. Front on, you see nothing but bars; Troy’s face only becomes visible from an angle.

Watch the video here

There are many traits I’ve inherited from my parents. Among them are a love of, and geeky interest in, perfume (that’s from my mum), an innate conviction that the plausibility of a piece of information is in no way connected to its truth (that’s from my dad), and (from both of them) the idea that you don’t have to stay in a place just because you were born there, or because you’re used to it.

My parents moved from Ibadan to London 22 years ago. Of course it wasn’t easy. They’ve put up with a lot and have since found tons of friends, fun and a place of their own. My mum’s jokes were one of the only good things about last year’s general election for me. Especially the text message where she mused about starting up her own BNP – the British Nigerian Party (slogan: British Jobs for Nigerian People!). So, as my mother’s daughter, here’s what I think about migration: it’s just as John Dickson Carr wrote concerning murders. The first is the hardest. After that, it’s a piece of cake.

Once upon a life: Helen Oyeyemi | Life and style | The Observer

As I packed my books and teapots in preparation for moving to Berlin, I wondered if I was on my way to a city I could actually have a functional relationship with. Well, I’m writing this from Berlin. City of my dreams, if you’re reading this somehow, I’m still available.

A long time ago, I read Women who Run with the Wolves. In it, the author uses the parable of The Ugly Duckling to make the case for understanding that the circumstances (i.e., family, environment, etc.) in which we are born, might not be where we are meant to be. To that extent, I have always seen myself a bit like the ugly duckling in the story, in that I always felt pretty much like an outsider my entire life. Reading that book was like someone turning on a light switch: suddenly I could see and I knew I could muster the courage to move on and away.

I appreciate Ms. Oyeyemi’s story. I think that it’s important to think long and hard about identity, place, and belonging, which she has certainly done. How funny that she’s now in Berlin. In any case, I hope that she finds her dream city … I know that I’ve found mine.

(via randomberlinchick)