Ines Johnson-Spain: Becoming Black
Becoming Black, Ines Johnson-Spain, 91’, Germany, ZDF 5.10.2020, OV with English subtitles
Autobiographical documentary film as a means of appropriating Afro-German biography: Growing up in the GDR, Ines Johnson-Spain only learns as a teenager that her skin colour is no "coincidence", but that her biological father was a student from Togo. In intensive conversations with her social father and other relatives from the GDR, the director succeeds in dissolving the cocoon of silence and denial in her autobiographical documentary film and working out the effects of structurally anchored racism. “I grew up exposed to a public gaze that judged and hurt me time and again. By now focusing the camera on myself, I was recreating the situation on my own terms and fully in control of my version of the story.” Travelling to her family of origin in Togo and Benin, she addresses questions of belonging and concepts of family, opening up a cinematic space for reflection on identity.
Ines Johnson-Spain (*1962) is a German-Togolese filmmaker, who grew up in the GDR and now lives in Berlin. She worked as a background artist for film and theatre before starting out in 2005 to make her own documentaries. In cooperation with Das kleine Fernsehspiel, she made the autobiographical, feature-length documentary Becoming Black (2020), which was shown and received several awards in Germany and abroad, among them, Best Documentary of the African Movie Academy Awards.