All Black Lives Matter: Black Germany & Beyond
The Black German Heritage & Research Association and Africana Studies at Rutgers University-Camden are pleased to invite you celebrate the tenth anniversary of the BGHRA at its Fifth International Conference “All Black Lives Matter: Black Germany & Beyond”.
The BGHRA Conference’s film events are made possible by the DEFA Film Library and the German Film Office. Streaming links with passwords will be made available to registrants ahead of the conference.
Sarah Blaßkiewitz: Precious Ivie (Ivie wie Ivie, Germany, 2021, 112 min.)
This engaging film addresses the current and always thorny topic of racism through its winning combination of incredible acting and clever humor. Afro-German Ivie, whom her friends call Schoko (Chocolate), lives in Leipzig. She works at a solarium run by her ex-boyfriend while she looks for steady employment as a teacher. One day, her half-sister from Berlin shows up at her door. She tells Schoko about the death of their father and his upcoming funeral in Senegal. Neither sister knew him, nor did they know each other until now, and thus they find it difficult to imagine getting to know his side of their family. As the sisters from two very different cities grow closer, Ivie starts to question not only her nickname, but also her culture and her self-image. And so an amazing journey begins.
Sarah Blaßkiewitz worked on film productions parallel to her studies in Audiovisual Media. Her graduation film Auf dem Weg nach oben premiered at the Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival Festival, and her short film Blank was released in 2016 and screened at many festivals. In 2017, she received development funding for her mini-series concept Supercrew. Most recently, she directed the final season of the series Druck, which premiered in January 2021. Precious Ivie is her feature film debut.
The Film Library of Branwen Okpako
Branwen Okpako was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She studied film directing in Berlin, and her graduation film, Dirt for Dinner, won several international prizes. Her fiction feature Valley of the Innocent premiered at TIFF and competed at FESPACO (Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou). The Education of Auma Obama won multiple awards, and the docu-drama The Curse of Medea—a film about the late (East) German author Christa Wolf, featuring Sheri Hagen—premiered at the Berlinale. Okpako teaches at UC Davis and is currently completing Chibok Girls, a feature film based on the 2016 novel by Nigerian author Helon Habila about the mass abduction in northern Nigeria.
The Education of Auma Obama (Die Geschichte der Auma Obama, Germany, 2011, 80 min.)
A captivating, intimate portrayal of the US president’s Kenyan half-sister. Obama studied linguistics in Heidelberg, Germany, before enrolling in film school in Berlin, where she met Okpako in the 1990s. In time, she moved back home to mentor a younger generation of politically and socially engaged Kenyans.
As the Toronto International Film Festival noted, “Okpako has always been interested in questions of identity, affiliation and belonging. Although she frames her film as a biographical portrait of Obama, she goes much further, providing layered historical context and discussion of post-colonial African identity from a feminist perspective.” This film won the African Movie Academy Award for Best Diaspora Documentary (2012), the Festival Founders Award for Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles (2012) and the Viewers’ Choice Award at the Africa International Film Festival (2011).
Curse of Medea (Fluch der Medea, Germany, 2014, 44 min.)
On January 27, 2010, Okpako visited the (East) German author Christa Wolf to discuss a film project based on Wolf’s novel Medea: A Modern Retelling. Over tea, with the sound of planes landing at nearby Schönefeld airport, they talk about how she came to tell the story of Medea the immigrant, treated with suspicion in her host country, and are joined by the voices of Medea, Jason, Agameda, Glaucke, and the passing of the East German era. This film premiered at the Berlinale in 2014.
Valley of the Innocent (Tal der Ahnungslosen, Germany, 2003, 85 min.)
Shortly before her 40th birthday, detective Eva Meyer revisits the Dresden orphanage where she grew up, intent on discovering her identity in this noir thriller. Stasi archives eventually reveal the story, and her family’s plot to hide her birth becomes a metaphor for things suppressed in Germany. Finding and confronting her mother sets off a chain of unintended consequences.
Dirt for Dinner (Dreckfresser, Germany, 2000, 73 min.)
In 1992, shortly after a series of racist murders and attacks against immigrants in former East Germany, posters throughout the country began featuring the smiling face of Sam Meffire, a young Afro-German police officer in the formerly East German state of Saxony. Meffire became well-known and a symbol of tolerance in Germany; but in 1994, he suddenly left the force and, two years later, was sentenced to ten years in prison for extortion and armed robbery.
Through interviews with Meffire, his mother and others, Okpako skillfully tells the story and draws a portrait of this young man who was both befriended and exploited by people in power. This film won multiple awards, including the German Newcomer Award for Best Documentary Film (2000), IG Media Award at DOK Leipzig (2000), Best Newcomer Film Award at the Duisburg Film Week, “The Young Lion” Documentary Award of the Bavarian State Government (2001), and Best Graduation Film at the See Docs in Dubrovnik Festival (2001).
LoveLoveLiebe (Germany, 1999, 35 min.)
Hans loves Fatima and he will do anything to make her feel at home in Germany. Fatima loves Hans and she will do anything to feel at home with him. This short student film was shot on 35mm.
Landing (Germany, 1997, 11 min.)
Landing is the story of a young Afro-German woman who wakes up to discover that she is invisible… something she has always dreamed about. Screened at the Berlinale in 2007.