Beautiful Tree, Severed Roots

This documentary Beautiful Tree, Severed Roots by Kenny Mann is showing at the Storymoja festival in Nairobi. It has been described by Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott as “a documentary full of poetry".

Below the director and story-teller Kenny Mann describes the background to her film.

"There was never one single moment of inspiration for this film. Since my parents arrived in Kenya in 1942 as Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe, it was rather a long process of realizing that I knew very little about my family background; that our Jewish roots had been denied and ignored; and that I was living multiple lives as a white person in an African country; an anti-colonialist in a colony; and a “British” citizen who had no connection whatsoever with England. I had also noticed that we had no relatives, other than my mother’s mother.

In my teens I had begun to question my parents about their lives, and over the years I had built up a sizable body of knowledge as well as a fat collection of family documents, with which my mother entrusted me. There were birth certificates; fake birth certificates that made my parents Catholics; school reports; naturalization papers; and old passports.

These documents, with their stamps, their barely legible signatures and flowery handwriting, fascinated me and I pored over them for hours, always finding some new detail. Perhaps they were the catalyst that started me thinking about personal identity – our real identities, not those imposed upon us by official documents In the end, they became the visual and philosophical framework of my film, serving as a link to the questions I ask and the answers I find."

Kenny Mann

To purchase this film, please contact 7th Art Releasing, Los Angeles, CA, 323 259-8259. To watch a trailer, please go to

General Info

Address Nairobi National Museum
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Beautiful Tree, Severed Roots

Nairobi National Museum

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