“The Education of Auma Obama,” a film by Branwen Okpako: screening and discussion with filmmaker

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
University Library, Lily Auditorium
755 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46202

Admission free Reception with light refreshments to follow

Branwen Okpako is a highly talented and successful Nigerian-Welsh documentary filmmaker, who now lives and works in Berlin, Germany, where in 1999 she received a degree in Film Directing from the prestigious German Film and Television Academy in Berlin. Since 1995 she has produced several videos, mixed media installations, and films. Her work has been selected to be shown at film festivals in Europe, Great Britain, Africa, North America, and the Middle East. In addition to her work as a filmmaker, Okpako offers seminars, workshops, and projects in film studies and filmmaking and lectures at universities in the US, Canada, Europe, and other parts of the world. Topics of her presentations include: Intersections of Race, Gender, and Otherness in Film; Black Identity in German Cinema; Migration and Multiculturalism in Contemporary Europe; The Art of Filmmaking; The Theory and Practice of Screenplay Writing, to name just a few.

For her 2000/2001 film, Dreckfresser (Dirt for Dinner), Okpako received, among others, the German Next-Generation-First-Steps Award for Best Documentary Film. For her 2002 film, Sehe ich was du nicht siehst? (Do I see what you do not see?), she received the D-motion special prize for the city of Halle, Germany. Her most acclaimed film, The Education of Auma Obama, (Die Geschichte der Auma Obama) has brought Okpako much attention. The film is a captivating and intimate portrait of the U.S. president’s older half-sister, who embodies a post-colonial, feminist identity. Dr. Auma Obama studied German at the University of Heidelberg from 1981 to 1987 before continuing with graduate studies at the University of Bayreuth, earning a PhD in 1996. Her dissertation was on the conception of labor in Germany and its literary reflections. For The Education of Auma Obama, Okpako received the 2012 African Movie Academy Award for Best Diaspora Documentary, the Festival Founders Award for Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles (both in 2012), and the Viewers Choice Award at the Africa International Film Festival (2011).

Her most recent project, Fluch der Medea (The Curse of Medea), a docu-drama about the life of the late German writer Christa Wolf, was shown at the Berlin Film Festival in 2014.

Okpako is currently a visiting professor of German at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. This event is co-sponsored by the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute and the IUPUI Max Kade German-American Center, with additional support from the Department of World Languages and Cultures and the German Program. For additional information contact: Jason M. Kelly, Director, IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, iahi@iupui.edu, (317) 274-1689 Claudia Grossmann, Interim Director, IUPUI Max Kade German-American Center,cgrossma@iupui.edu, (317) 274-3943

Call for papers: 2014 Purdue American Studies Symposium: American exceptionalism in the 21st century

Call for Papers: 39th Annual American Studies Graduate Symposium
“The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly: American Exceptionalism in the 21st Century”
Purdue University, April 17-18, 2014

Keynote Speaker: Kevin Gaines, Robert Hayden Collegiate Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan

The election of our nation’s first Black president ushered in a discourse of Post-Blackness, suggesting that America’s race problems were behind us. Likewise, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the unconstitutionality of DOMA seem to suggest that discrimination against LGBT and queer persons was a thing of the past. However, recent political attacks on women’s rights, renewed fights to prevent LGBT persons from marrying, the government shutdown, the GOP war on voting rights aimed at disenfranchising people of color, as well as our extended global “war on terror,” have dispelled the notion that we are “post” anything. American exceptionalism, including intra-American exceptionalism, is in full effect. Still, we must ask, what’s good about America? What narratives of belonging, nation, and freedom bind us to our American identity? Is there anything left to love about America?

In accordance with this theme, we would be interested in tracing the resurgence of imperialism, white supremacy, economic disparity, and otherness within the turn of the century. Other possible sub-themes include:

  • Identity: What constitutes an American? Who is excluded and why?
  • Post-race, post-feminism, post-Civil Rights?
  • Commodification/Cooptation of American identity
  • Music/sound
  • Technology/Innovation
  • Media/Popular Culture/Representation
  • American Exceptionalism in a transnational context
  • Religion/spirituality
  • LGBT/Queer: Progression (or regression) of movements, visibility, etc.
  • Ecology/geography
  • Immigration and American identity
  • Urban/rural landscapes and communities
  • Dis(ability)
  • University/Public Education System
  • Nostalgia (Longing for a “halcyon” past, 1950s, The Old South, etc.)
  • How are these concepts tied to exceptionalism?
  • Love and Affect: How do we feel about America? What’s left to love? What constitutes a “good” life/nation?

The Symposium Committee invites all those interested to submit proposals no longer than one page in length for panels, individual papers, workshops, and performances no later than January 10, 2014. Please also submit a biography of no more than 250 words, a current CV with contact information, especially your email address, and a list of any audio and/or visual equipment necessary for presentation. Submissions may be made electronically to Stephanie A. Allen at amstsymposium@purdue.edu. Inquiries regarding the symposium may be made to the same email address.

The full flyer can be seen here.

Contact information: Stephanie A. Allen, Purdue University, 100 N. University St., (765) 496-9629, email: allen65@purdue.edu