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Nana Benz

Original Title: Nana Benz

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NANA BENZ tells the story of the legendary Queens of the West – African fabric-trade, self-made women, coming out of nowhere, building empires. These women were heroes to the people and the first Mercedes drivers on the West African coast. They have marked the history of Togo from the battles for independence through the dictatorship to the globalization of today. To the population the Nana Benz have become mythical figures endued with supernatural powers, but mostly they were clever business women with connections to powerful men like the dictator Eyadema. The director Thomas Böltken manages to establish closure to the protagonists by letting their heirs – grandchildren, widows, lovers – speak.

Technical Information

2012; Germany; Documentary, History; 87 minutes; HDCAM-SR; 1:1.77 (16:9); 5.1 mix; Original Language: English, French, German; Subtitles: English


Thomas Böltken


Thomas Böltken


Thomas Böltken


Brigitta Tauchner


Aly Keita




Stefan Schneider


Manuel Laval, André Reichow


Thomas Böltken was born in Duesseldorf, West-Germany in 1971. He grew up in Ivory Coast, West-Africa, and studied film-sciences, psychology and English at the Ruhr-Universität-Bochum, Germany. After University he played the drums for the American band KOOL ADE ACID TEST, recording three albums and touring for several years, but his passion for film and the life on a set forced him to spend more time in the industry. He earned his first money in this business as a light technician. T. Böltken shot his first documentary HISTORIAS DE ARRIBA Y ABAJO in Bolivia, which was screened in competition at the festivals of La Habana and Malaga in 2006.

Since then Böltken has worked as a script developer, screenwriter and consultant. In 2009 he held a workshop at the Goethe Institute Lomé (Togo), where he worked with young filmmakers and shot a series of short documentaries. Since 2012 he is lecturing documentary filmmaking for journalism students (B.A.) at the Macromedia University for Media and Communication in Berlin and working as a documentary filmmaker and as a screenwriter for fiction film. The shooting of his next full-length documentary will probably start in 2014, in the African Sahel-region.

Selective Filmography

Feature Film

2009 Mr. Nobody

Feature Documentary

2006 Historias de Arriba y Abajo


TV Series

2010 Mein Leben & ich

coming soon…