Branwen Okpako was born in Lagos, Nigeria to a Pharmacologist father from Uhrobo and a Welsh librarian mother. She attended Atlantic College in Wales where she completed her International Baccalaureate before going to the Bristol University, England where she bagged a BSC in Political Sciences in 1991. She then proceeded to the German Film & Television Academy (DFFB), Berlin where she received an MFA equivalent in film directing in 1999. Her graduation film Dreckfresser (Dirt For Dinner 2000) won several international awards including First Steps – The German Newcomer Award for Documentary film 2000, IG Media Award (DOK-Leipzig) 2000, Distributions prize from sales 2000, The 24th Duisburg Film Week Award of the city of Duisburg for the best newcomer film Award Bavarian State Government Documentary Award “The Young Lion” 2001, Best graduation film at the See Docs Dubrovnik festival 2001. These feats marked a huge leap into a bright future in creative film making by this beautiful Nigerian-born film maker.
Okpako’s impressive career in film making distinguishes her as one of the best in this industry with international reckoning. The fiction feature Valley of the Innocent (Tal der Ahnungslosen, 2004) had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film festival in 2003 and went on to compete in the feature film competition at FESPACO in 2005. For her documentary film 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 documentary-drama, The Curse of Medea (Fluch der Medea 2014), about the life of the late German writer Christa Wolf, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2014.
Branwen Okpako is Associate Professor at UC Davis in the Department of Cinema and Digital Media and is currently completing her sixth feature film entitled CHIBOK GIRLS based on the 2016 book of the same title by Helon Habila. She is among the best Nigerian-born film makers doing exploits in the international film industry.