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Virtual Film Screening: “Becoming Black” (2019)

September 20, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

This event is part of 2022 Campus Weeks. You can learn more this initiative and view other Campus Weeks events on our Campus Weeks webpage.

“BECOMING BLACK” A Film by Ines Johnson-Spain

RSVP for September 20


A white couple living in the German Democratic Republic in the 1960s, tells their Black child that her skin color is purely by chance and has no meaning. This is also what the girl prefers to believe, until she accidentally discovers the truth as a teenager.

Years before, a group of men from various African countries is invited by the Government of the GDR to live and study at an Eastern German Union College “Fritz Heckert” in Bernau, a village, close to Berlin. Informal encounters with the local population are not frowned upon. Nevertheless, on the secluded campus love doesn’t escape some GDR citizens and African students, like Sigrid from Leipzig and Lucien from Togo. But Sigrid is already married and has a little boy with Armin. When she falls pregnant with Lucien’s child, it breaks the family apart.

But after a period of separation, the couple decides to stay together and make a fresh start.

The film tracks the elaborate strategies the pair invent to retain a sense of “normalcy” after the birth of their Black child. The child is filmmaker Ines Johnson-Spain.

Meeting her stepfather Armin and others from her childhood years, she tracks the silence and denial her parents and the closer surroundings had developed.

In an intimate portrayal but also critical exploration she brings together painful and confusing childhood memories with an examination of social and political implications, that testify a culture of rejection and structural racism. After she discovered the truth about her ancestry it will take many more years, before she decides to embark on a journey to Togo to look for her African family. Together with the movingly encounters with her new found family BECOMING BLACK develops into a reflection on themes such as affiliation, social norms and concepts of family, seen from a very personal perspective.




September 20, 2022
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Center for European Studies | A Jean Monnet Center of Excellence
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