Events | Becoming Black - Film Screening and Discussion

Goethe-Institut Los Angeles | March 17, 2023 | 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM (PDT)

Please Join us on Friday, March 17th at 7:00 p.m. (PT) for a screening of the autobiographical film BECOMING BLACK followed by a discussion with filmmaker and Villa Aurora Fellow Ines Johnson-Spain and Film Programmer and Film Critic Katarina Hedrén.

About the Documentary BECOMING BLACK

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).


Ines Johnson-Spain, born and raised in the GDR (*1962), studied religious studies at the Free University of Berlin and liberal arts and film history as a guest at the Berlin University of the Arts. She works as a director and screenwriter. She is particularly interested in self-concepts in the field of tension between the individual and society. In the current film BECOMING BLACK she autobiographically dealt with her German/Togolese origin. She is currently a fellow at Villa Aurora.







Katarina Hedrén is a Swedish film programmer and film critic of Ethiopian origin, who has worked with film festivals worldwide, incl. The European Film Festival in South Africa, Film Africa (The UK), FESPACO (Burkina Faso), IDFA (The Netherlands) and Göteborg Film Festival (Sweden) among others. As a film critic she has contributed to various platforms, incl. Africa is a Country, BBC Culture, Sweden Radio, Radio 702 in South Africa and to the anthology Gaze Regimes – Films and Feminisms in Africa (Mistry & Schuhmann, Wits University Press, 2015). She regularly writes for the Swedish periodical, FLM.



Goethe-Institut Los Angeles Project Space

1901 W. 7th St. Suite AB,

Los Angeles, CA 90057

Attendance to this event is free and open to the public.


An event in collaboration with our partner institution Thomas Mann House and the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles.

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