Film screening

German Movie Nights: Becoming Black

Becoming Black


Maysles Cinema

343 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10027


Language: German, French with English subtitles
Price: Free Registration required

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The German Film Office is pleased to present a special in-person screening of Ines Johnson-Spain’s 2019 documentary Becoming Black at Maysles Cinema in Harlem, followed by a conversation with the filmmaker. Tickets are free. Please register to attend.

Co-presented with Villa Aurora, Los Angeles, where the filmmaker is currently in residence.

Imagine that your parents and brother are white, but your skin color is dark, and you’re being told that this is pure coincidence. This is what happened to a girl in East Berlin in the 1960s. Years before, a group of African men had come to the town as students, and the German woman Sigrid fell in love with Lucien from Togo. Sigrid had a child by him, but she was already married to Armin.

The child is filmmaker Ines Johnson-Spain. Meeting her stepfather Armin and others from her childhood years, she tracks the astonishing strategies of denial her parents and those around them came up with. In what’s both an intimate portrayal and a critical exploration, she brings together painful and confusing childhood memories with matter-of-fact accounts that testify to a culture of rejection and tight-lipped denial.

But there’s also the movingly warm meeting with Johnson-Spain’s Togolese family. Becoming Black develops into a highly-personal reflection on themes such as identity, social norms and family ties.

World premiere: IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

Becoming Black
Dir. Ines Johnson-Spain
Germany, 2019
91 minutes