Hawa Essuman

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Hawa Essuman (born 1980) is an award-winning film director based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her 2017 feature-length documentary Silas, co-directed with Anjali Neyar, tells the story of Liberian environmental activist Silas Siakor's fight to preserve the country's rainforests from commercial logging. The film won multiple awards, including the Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award (2018) and the Audience Award for best documentary at the Riverrun Film Festival (2018). Hawa's first feature film, Soul Boy (2010), also received a series of awards.[1][2] In addition, Hawa has produced a range of TV programmes, commercial films, music videos and adverts.


Born in Hamburg, Germany, on 23 January 1980, she is the daughter of Ghanaian parents who brought her up in Nairobi, Kenya.[3][1] After several appearances in the theatre, she moved into production work, first on television commercials and documentaries, then on a local drama series, Makutano Junction. She created and directed Selfish? in 2008, followed by three short films in 2008, The Lift, Cold War and Coming Out.[2]

With the encouragement and assistance of Tom Tykwer, she directed Soul Boy (2010). Based on a story by Billy Kahora, it originated at a workshop organized by the German association One Fine Day.[4] Presented at over 40 film festivals around the world, it won a number of awards.[2]


Essuman's 'Silas' has won the following awards:

  • Documentary audience award 2018 - Riverrun Film Festival [5]
  • Best Documentary and Best International Film 2018 - Zanzibar International Film Festival [6]
  • Documentary Audience Award 2018 - Afrika film festival Köln, Germany [7]
  • Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award 2018 - Durban International Film Festival [8]
  • Green Warsaw Award 2018 - Warsaw Film Festival [9]
  • William W. Warner Beautiful Swimmers Award 2018 - Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital: Washington - [10]
  • Best documentary feature 2018 Footcandle Film Festival [11]

Essuman's Soul Boy has won the following awards:

  • Dioraphte Audience Award, International Film Festival Rotterdam[12]
  • Veto Award, Afrika-Filmfestival, Leuven, Belgium
  • Signis Award, Zanzibar International Film Festival, Zanzibar, Tanzania[13]
  • Polish Filmmakers Association Award, Ale Kino!, Poznań, Poland
  • Best Short Film, Kalasha Awards, Nairobi, Kenya[14]
  • Best Lead Actor: Samson Odhiambo, Kalasha Awards, Nairobi, Kenya[15]
  • Best Scriptwriter: Billy Kahora, Kalasha Awards, Nairobi, Kenya[16]
  • Best Actor: Samson Odhiambo, Kenya International Film Festival, Nairobi, Kenya[17]
  • Best East African Film, Kenya International Film Festival, Nairobi, Kenya[18]
  • Special Mention "Passeurs d’images" prize, FESTIVAL CINÉ JUNIOR (International Film Festival for Young people), Paris, France
  • The Young Jury Prize, FESTIVAL CINÉ JUNIOR (International Film Festival for Young people), Paris, France
  • Spiritual Film Festival Award, Paris
  • Best Children's Film Award at the Film Festival Recklinghausen (Germany) 2011[19]
  • Best Editor: Ephantus Ng'ethe Gitungo, African Movie Academy Awards[20]


  1. ^ a b "Hawa Essuman" (in German). Filmportal.de. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "About the director". African Film Festival New York. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Liff awards 2011" (PDF). limbo7.com. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Hawa Essuman and the Soul Boy Project". African Women in Cinema Blog. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  5. ^ https://riverrunfilm.com/
  6. ^ http://www.ziff.or.tz/
  7. ^ https://afrikafilmfestivalkoeln.de/en/home-en/#pll_switcher
  8. ^ https://durbanfilmfest.co.za/
  9. ^ https://wff.pl/en/
  10. ^ https://dceff.org/
  11. ^ http://www.footcandlefilmfestival.com/
  12. ^ "IFFR". IFFR (in Dutch). Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  13. ^ Signis Award, Zanzibar International Film Festival Archived 2010-08-25 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "kalashaawards.co.ke". www.kalashaawards.co.ke. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  15. ^ "kalashaawards.co.ke". www.kalashaawards.co.ke. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  16. ^ "kalashaawards.co.ke". www.kalashaawards.co.ke. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  17. ^ Kenya International Film Festival: Best Actor
  18. ^ Kenya International Film Festival: Best East African Film
  19. ^ Recklinghausen, Kirchliches Filmfestival (2018-03-01). "Programm 2018 - 9. Kirchliches Filmfestival Recklinghausen". www.kirchliches-filmfestival.de (in German). Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  20. ^ Best Editor, African Movie Academy Awards Archived 2011-04-03 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]