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‘Healing Roots’ documents Namibia’s cultural tapestry

2024-06-21  Pricilla Mukokobi

‘Healing Roots’ documents Namibia’s cultural tapestry

Niklas von Klitzing, a German-born filmmaker with deep ties to Namibia, has unveiled his latest documentary film ‘Healing Roots’, shedding light on the life of renowned local visual artist Hage Mukwendje and the rich cultural fabric of Namibia.

The film delves into Mukwendje’s artistic journey, showcasing his work that truly resonates with Namibia’s diverse heritage. 

Through this documentary, Von Klitzing not only highlights Mukwendje’s contributions to the art world, but also paints a broader picture of Namibia’s cultural tapestry. 

The film offers viewers an immersive experience into the traditions, stories and artistic expressions that define the Namibian identity.

Raised in Germany but deeply rooted in Namibia through his father and relatives, his passion for storytelling led him to co-found a film production company Loft Arts with his friend, Leo Stolz, in 2019. 

Their shared love for documentary filmmaking and the quest for compelling narratives propelled them towards Mukwendje’s story.

‘Healing Roots’ digs into his unique artistic vision, which intricately weaves together Namibia’s culture and identity.

“Hage’s journey from a small village in Namibia to becoming a well-known artist is a big part of ‘Healing Roots’. His reflections on identity, culture and the role of art in his life really drive the story. His relationship with art connects different parts of the documentary, making his personal story feel like a universal tale of discovery and self-expression,” said Von Klitzing. 

He said during the filming process, he and his team were deeply moved by the moments captured in Okalongo, where his warmth and humility shone brightly amidst his family and community. 

It was perfect for the documentary, showcasing his genuine connections and the profound impact of his art on his surroundings.

Witnessing Mukwendje’s live painting sessions, the filmmakers were spellbound by the passion and intensity he poured into his craft, providing a window into his creative process, and the depth of his artistic expression.

“One of the biggest challenges we faced was the editing process. We had so much footage. One unique aspect of this project was the extensive archival footage I had from my dad’s trips through Namibia. I found this old footage when I was 16, and knew I had to make use of it someday,” said Von Klitzing.

They also collaborated with some of the best musicians in Namibia, such as Ras Sheehama, Lioness, Young T, K-Boz, Samuele Ngodji (formerly known as Qonja) and Jackson Wahengo. 

Their contributions added significant depth and multiple layers to the documentary, and helped to weave a richer narrative.

“We hope audiences really connect with the themes in ‘Healing Roots’, and come away with a better understanding and appreciation of the deep relationship between culture and art. We want the film to inspire viewers to think about their own cultural backgrounds, and how these are expressed through art. By sharing Hage’s story and his thoughts on identity and creativity, we hope to encourage a broader conversation about how art can influence and reflect both personal and collective experiences,” he stated. 

He further noted the documentary has also been selected for major festivals, including the Berlin Commercial and Los Angeles IndieX Film Fest. 

“We’ll also use social media and partnerships with cultural institutions to reach a wider audience. Additionally, we want to organise screenings in Namibia to celebrate the film with local communities.”

2024-06-21  Pricilla Mukokobi

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