Between 1990 and 1997, Auma Obama, half-sister of Barack Obama, studied at the Berlin Film and Television Academy (DFFB). For her final project, Obama wrote and directed All That Glitters (1993), a short film about Wendo, a Kenyan woman living in Bayreuth, married to a white German man and mother to an Afro-German daughter named Achieng. Inspired by Obama’s own experiences, a central focus of the film is the personal effects of racism on black immigrant women and the fungibility of black lives in postunification Germany where political rhetoric has contributed to an atmosphere of hostility toward people of color. In her memoir, Obama acknowledges that her professors and classmates disapproved of the film because it was not “realistic.” Her critics may have been troubled by her blending of different genres, or by the story’s ambiguous ending, or by the portrayal of German racism. While some might see Obama’s fantastical, fragmented narrative as a reflection of her novice filmmaking, this article argues that, faced with the material constraints of making a student film, Obama relies on multiple genres and German intertexts (including The Valkyrie, M, and The Murderers Are among Us) as a shorthand, not only for warning against the danger of racist violence in postunification Germany but also for insisting that this trend aligns with a longer German history of violence against the most vulnerable, including women, children, and racialized minorities.
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Priscilla Layne; All That Glitters Isn’t Gold: Auma Obama’s Nightmare of Postunification Germany. Camera Obscura 1 December 2018; 33 (3 (99)): 75–101. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-7142188
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