Bringing to life Berlin’s Black / Brown treasured past, mystical futures, and
sustaining presence in celebration on screen
Live chile! is an affirmation, an encouragement, a command whispering to us through the rustle of Grunewald leaves, the rumbling of the U-bahn cars, from corners of colonial-named streets of a Berlin that has been home over centuries, to Black and Brown artists, intellectuals, aunties, and teachers who made ways and means for us to live, create, to thrive. Audre Lorde, May Ayim, and all of our unnamed ancestral guides beckon us to believe that we belong everywhere, even when we choose not to remain, because as Nina Simone said, “freedom is having no fear,” and “I don’t blame you much for wanting to be free.”
Written and composed by Berlin-based poet, producer, and Black Brown Berlin co-founder Rhea Ramjohn, Live chile! pays direct homage to Berlin writers May Ayim and Audre Lorde and the paths which they paved for the Black and Brown communities of Berlin. Often seen in 1980s photographs with Berlin’s Grunewald as their backdrop, Audre Lorde spoke of the solace and joy she found during long walks with her friends, students, and family throughout the sprawling landscape and sand dunes of Berlin’s largest forest. Filming Live chile! in the Grunewald was not only the perfect setting for honoring our Black and Brown Berlin ancestry, but it also serves as a fresh perspective on a city so often portrayed as the clichéd graffitied metropolis. Berlin is one of the greenest capitals in the world, a fact often overlooked in much the same way the contributions of migrant communities tend to be discounted or dismissed. Live chile! commemorates our belonging, our talents, our beauty, our diasporas and fulfills the mission and philosophy behind Black Brown Berlin’s founding- to connect, amplify, and celebrate Black and Brown life.
From its conception to execution, the Live chile! film came to life through the passionate work of 16 incredible creative professionals, 14 of which are part of the African, Asian, and Indigenous communities hailing from all parts of the globe, with the goal of producing work that is healing, joyful, and embracing. This tribute and reflection on our ways of being, on our lives in the margins, spans not only the personal scope of our diasporic communities, but it widens to include the parallels found in the narrative of our current global pandemic. The micro and macro levels of the concept of distance challenge us to face realities of loss, historically and contemporaneously: loss of oral histories, loss of connection, loss of loved ones who “were hours and clouds away from our touch,” loss of ritual, loss of physical touch, loss of justice and equity. And yet, in all this loss we find familiarity in the eyes staring from above a mask, in the beat of the protest drum, in the sound of calling out “mama” and in the meandering, well-tread forest path. All guides to, live chile!
Commissioned in 2020 by Germany’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) for the curated project DNA: Das Neue Alphabet and their international exhibition CC:WORLD, (DNA: The New Alphabet / CC:WORLD) Live chile! joined an esteemed roster of international artists and researchers to answer the question of how we experience the uniquely existential situation of the pandemic at the intersection of social unrest and “in opposition to the economization of all spheres of life.” Executive produced by Black Brown Berlin founders Rhea Ramjohn, Chanel Ulalee Knight, Femi Oyewole and *Tristan Littlejohn. Written and spoken word by Rhea Ramjohn, performed by Nasheeka Nedsreal, Maiysha Cade, Estela Suarez, Esther Jeroboan, Rachel Schwarz, Stephanie Burrell, styling by Goitseone Montsho and make-up by Ladivine Mulumba. Directed and edited by Ibra Wane with director of photography Diara Sow, 1st assistant director Sarah Kachiri, 1st assistant camera David Schwier and sound by Paul Lorton. Production by Yaasaa and led by producer Noor-Cella Bena. Live chile! Can be viewed currently at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt online exhibition CC:WORLD
*Since the start of October 2020, co-founder Tristian Littlejohn has moved on to other ventures.
Watch the Live, Chile film here