EN - The Kakuma refugee camp, built in the middle of the Turkana desert in Kenya, is the fastest growing city in the region. Many of its new arrivals are children sent out of conflict zones by their parents. Against all odds, these children grab every opportunity to rebuild their lives. While waiting for her mother to return from South Sudan, eight-year-old Nyakong starts school. Slowly, she creates a new home in the camp. At the age of 17, teenagers like Claude and Khadijo consequently compete for international scholarships, get jobs and even build their own houses. Can Kakuma really offer a future? Or is it just a waiting room, where the only option is to plan your journey to Europe? In a world hit by in-humane political decision making, this film wants to draw attention to the ongoing crisis in the Horn of Africa. With his intimate and warm approach, The Invisible City [Kakuma] wants to be an antidote to the growing xenophobia.

NL - Hoe bouw je een thuis op een plek die 'nergens' heet? Regisseur Lieven Corthouts woonde meer dan vier jaar in het Afrikaanse vluchtelingenkamp Kakuma en ontdekte dat ‘nergens’ ook ‘onzichtbaar’ is voor de buitenwereld. Kakuma (letterlijk ‘Nergens’) is een Keniaans kamp midden in de woestijn dat is uitgegroeid tot een stad van 200.000 inwoners. Onder hen veel kinderen zonder ouders. Tegen alle verwachtingen in grijpen deze kinderen alle mogelijkheden aan om in het kamp een nieuw leven en een toekomst uit te bouwen. De achtjarige Nyakong is net toegekomen in het kamp en start haar schoolcarrière terwijl ze wacht op de terugkomst van haar moeder. De tieners Claude en Khadijo bouwen een eigen huis, ijveren voor een internationale beurs, vinden werk. Maar kan Kakuma wel een echte toekomst bieden? Of is het slechts een wachtkamer, waar je enige echte optie de gevaarlijke reis naar Europa is? In een wereld die beheerst wordt door inhumane politieke besluitvorming wil deze film de aandacht vestigen op de aanhoudende kritieke situatie in de Hoorn van Afrika. The Invisible City [Kakuma] is een intieme, hoopvolle getuigenis die kan dienen als tegengif voor de rijzende gevoelens van haat en onverdraagzaamheid.


Title The Invisible City [Kakuma]
Original title The Invisible City [Kakuma]
Original language Swahili, Somali, Nuer, English
Status Completed
Production Majority Flemish
Category Docs
Genre creative documentary
Year 2016
World première / first public presentation 2016-04-19


Photography Lieven Corthouts
Editing Jan De Coster
Sound Raf Enckels
Music Stef Kamil Carlens

Technical specs

Running time film 74'
Colour Colour
Available in 2D


Supported by Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), Flanders Image, CANVAS, Belgische Ontwikkelingssamenwerking - DGD Federale Overheidsdienst Buitenlandse Zaken, Buitenlandse Handel en Ontwikkelingssamenwerking, MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Fonds Pascal Decroos
Tax shelter partners Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government


2018: Belmundo Festival (BE)

2017: Festival du Film et Forum International sur les Droits Humains (CH); Human Rights Night (IT); Ischia Film Festival (IT); The African Film Festival (US); The Impact DOCS Awards (US); Docs Without Borders Film Festival (US)

2016: MOOOV Film Festival (BE); Docville (BE); Festival van de Gelijkheid (BE)


2017: Bayer price for the section Denied Location — Ischia Film Festival; Award of Excellence: Documentary Feature — The Impact DOCS Awards

Strong Flemish presence at Docville

From 29 April-7 May at Docville in Leuven, Belgian documentaries will be in the spotlight once again. This year’s National Competition has a distinctly Flemish tinge, with screenings including The Land of the Enlightened, Samuel in the Clouds, No Man Is an Island and The Invisible City [Kakuma]. Two Flemish documentaries - Wim and Truth or Consequence - will also receive their world premieres at Docville.

Samuel In The CloudsIn Wim, filmmaker Lut Vandekeybus dives into the complex poetic universe of her brother, acclaimed choreographer and director Wim Vandekeybus, while Truth or Consequence by Sam Ostyn is a captivating and poetic portrait of a tiny town in the New Mexico desert that changed its name to the title of a radio show.

Published on Friday 22 April 2016

Two Flemish documentaries have their world premieres at MOOOV Film Festival

The Invisible City [Kakuma], directed by Lieven Corthouts; and Samuel in the Clouds, directed by Pieter Van Eecke, are to have their world premieres at the MOOOV Film Festival (19 April-3 May) in Belgium. A further three docs from Flanders - The Land of the Enlightened, No Man Is an Island and Reach for the Sky - have also been selected. The MOOOV festival is set to screen 101 films from 37 different countries.

The Invisible City [Kakuma]The Invisible City [Kakuma] follows director Lieven Corthouts to Kakuma, a Kenyan refugee camp where countless unaccompanied minors arrive every day. The children grab all the chances they get and try to build a new life and a future. But can Kakuma offer a real future in a new home or is it just a waiting area, where the only option is to continue the dangerous journey to Europe?

Published on Monday 21 March 2016

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Last edited on 23 February 2018

Short info

Director Lieven Corthouts
Producers Emmy Oost
Writers Lieven Corthouts

Cassette for timescapes
Schuurstraat 39
9040 Ghent
T +32 9 278 05 90


Website theinvisiblecitykakuma.com
Preferential partners