Twende Berlin: Documentary About Gentrification in Berlin Told Through Eyes of Kenyan Hip Hop Musicians

Upendo Hero as seen at CinemAfrica Sweden Film Festival

Twende Berlin is a documentary about urban spaces and our relationship to them as told through the eyes of a troupe of African hip-hop artists ‘Ukoo Flani‘ on their adventure through Berlin and is produced by African based filmmakers. The film is produced by Cultural Video Foundation (CVF) in collaboration with Urban Mirror. German musicians The Teichmann Brothers and a host of other German musicians are also involved.
After the success of Maskaniflani, an award-winning participatory documentary and music video about public art and public space in Kenya, the hiphop group ‘Ukoo Flani’ started to develop different projects to explore the urban space that they inhabit, using music and art. The group, is composed of 6 members and Upendo Hero (the love hero, pictured above with a love-heart in place of a head) a mysterious character invented by Ukoo Flani to spread the message of love for public space. The social issue which underpins the documentary is the importance of public space and public art in contemporary society, and how and why western metropolises are affected by the emerging phenomenon of “gentrification”.

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In ‘ Twende Berlin’  which screened at CinemAfrica Sweden, Ukoo Flani and Upendo Hero discover how artists and the so-called “creative class” become unwitting pawns in the shifting fortunes of Berlin neighbourhoods. Seeking out low-rent areas they move in and shift the demographic and profile of that space. This acts as a catalyst, increasing property values which can then often mean that the original inhabitants of these neighbourhoods can no longer afford to live there. Whilst these neighbourhoods were not necessarily always cohesive communities, often, and particularly in Berlin, they are. The city is, undeniably losing something. And this is what Ukoo Flani and Upendo hero try to find out.


As described on the documentary’s page, this documentary is not only a trip into the public space and public art scene of Berlin, but also a comparative study about the possible positive or negative impact of this emerging “creative class” in both Western and African metropolises, thanks also to the contribution of different urban sociologists from Kenyan and German universities.

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Twende Berlin film documentary becomes an occasion for both European and African urban citizens,  to twist and subvert stereotypes and become both an object of social and cultural investigation to discover ourselves again in the eyes of a group of African hip hop artists and their super hero. It becomes a transformative journey that alters the five Kenyan men but also the modern city of Berlin, where gentrification has taken off and has pushed away artists. It’s a refreshing documentary full of absurd situations and music. A strong reminder of the value of public places in the city, places where we can meet and express ourselves.

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Find out more about the making of this film at filmmaker Adrian Storey‘s website here.

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