The purpose of the African Women in Cinema Blog is to provide a space to discuss diverse topics relating to African women in cinema--filmmakers, actors, producers, and all film professionals. The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma est un espace pour l'échange d'informations concernant les réalisatrices, comédiennes, productrices, critiques et toutes professionnelles dans ce domaine. Ceci sert de forum public du Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinémas.


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14 January 2023

Wanjiru Kinyanjui: A Lover & Killer of Colour - The Battle of the Sacred Tree - Berlinale Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung 2023

Wanjiru Kinyanjui
Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung 2023

Wanjiru Kinyanjui has been fascinated with storytelling since she was a young girl, her imagination visualizing the stories that she read. It is not surprising that her passion brought her to the doorstep of the Deutsche Film und Fernsehakademie, the German film school where she could "plunge into a world full of characters and their stories." She had this to say about her experiences there:

The film school was definitely a great opportunity for me because we had no theoretical exams. Our papers were actual films and we could, therefore, experiment on each film we made after every seminar or workshop. Some cinemas in Berlin provided us with free tickets and it was possible for us to watch as many different films as we had time for. I could choose my own subjects, my own format, and the people I would work with. In a way, it was a freeing experience. (Excerpt of interview from Sisters of the Screen by Beti Ellerson)

The Berlinale Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung 2023 features two of her works that were produced in Germany 

A Lover & Killer of Colour

Federal Republic of Germany, 1988

with Alida Babel


“I strike with the brush until the white canvas tears.” Wanjiru Kinyanjui’s fiction short about a Black painter in West Berlin was shot on 16mm and draws its power from its atmospheric night scenes and self-confident stream of consciousness.

A young Black woman played by Alida Babel walks through Berlin on her own. It is midnight, her heels click against the steps leading down to the U-Bahn, the train has just left, the empty platform becomes a space of anxiety. Twelve minutes to wait, the voiceover spoken by the director herself complains: “This impatience!” Wanjiru Kinyanjui made A Lover & Killer of Colour (1988) during her studies at the DFFB. This short film miniature revolves around the experience of sexist and racist harassment – and the anger which emerges in response. What can be done with all the aggression that finds no release during such humiliating moments? The film watches as rage is translated into artistic work. The night scenes alternate with footage from the young woman’s studio; she is a painter, and she writes. While she is typing, the voiceover says: “If you do not stop / insulting me / you leeches / I will kill you / in this poem.” Wanjiru Kinyanjui’s directness rejects the sort of sublimation that may have kept the anger contained – even as the wish for reconciliation remains: “Through words, my trust is repaired / on white paper”. (Source:

The Battle of the Sacred Tree

Germany, 1995

with Margaret Nyacheo, Catherine Kariuki, Roslynn Kimani, Titi Wainaina, Ben Ateku


Mumbi leaves Nairobi for her ancestral village and gets into a quarrel with a Christian women’s group seeking to eradicate the remains of pre-colonial belief systems. Wanjiru Kinyanjui graduated from the DFFB with this smart comedy shot in Kenya.

Wanjiru had this to say about her film: "Well, this is the film I enjoyed doing most: I was telling a story like any other, albeit on African culture.  It is about a group of Christian women who want to be rid of the "primitive, savage and hateful past" by getting the old, sacred tree chopped down.  They cannot mobilize people to do it, so they decide to do it themselves; but before they strike it on a moonlit night, they are attacked by God's own creatures, the biting safari ants which live and thrive under the tree." (Excerpt of interview from Sisters of the Screen by Beti Ellerson)

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