“Becoming Black” – Film Screening and Discussion at Goethe-Institut Los Angeles

Photo by goethe

Villa Aurora and Thomas Mann House, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, cordially invite you to a screening of the autobiographical film BECOMING BLACK on February 24th at 7:00 p.m. (PT) at the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles. The screening will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker and Villa Aurora Fellow Ines Johnson-Spain, Thomas Mann Fellow Alice Hasters and Nora Bernard, Associate for the Global Media Makers Program at Film Independent.

While attendance to this event is free and open to the public, RSVP is mandatory.


Goethe-Institut Los Angeles Project Space, 1901 W. 7th St. Suite AB, Los Angeles, CA 90057


A white couple in the GDR of the 1960s explains to their Black daughter that her skin color is pure coincidence and has no meaning. This is also what the girl likes to believe until, by chance, she discovers the truth at the age of 12.

The child is filmmaker Ines Johnson-Spain.

Long after meeting her biological father’s family in Togo, she now, in the role of protagonist and author, reconstructs her family history in the film BECOMING BLACK.

In emotional and open conversations with her stepfather, the atmosphere of silence and repression gets impressively palpable. Slowly it becomes clear how the social environment allowed such a serious denial of facts. The private is political. While exploring her own identity, Ines Johnson-Spain unveils the big taboo that overshadowed her whole childhood, revealing the structural racism in the GDR. In connection with the touching meeting with her late-found Togolese family, the film reflects on identity, family concepts, and social norms. From the 1960s in East Berlin to the present, previously unwritten German history unfolds in this intimate and touching self-portrait.

Germany, 2019, 91 Minutes, digital projection. In German/French with English subtitles. Writer-Director: Ines Johnson-Spain, Director of Photography: Sebastian Winkels, Anne Misselwitz, Editor: Yana Höhnerbach, Executive Producers: Katrin Sandmann, Stefan Matthieu, Producer: Anahita Nazemi.

Production Company: Kobalt Documentary in co-production with Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) (Das kleine Fernsehspiel).


For more information please visit www.goethe.de