The Inheritance

Julian inherits a house in West Philadelphia from his grandmother and asks his girlfriend Gwen to move in, although she turns out to be just the first member of the commune that sets up home with him within its brightly coloured walls. Together with the founding couple, the seven-strong collective are soon reciting African-American poetry, reading post-colonial theory, holding seminars on Sudanese languages and enjoying jazz-inflected jam sessions, with the chest of materials on the wider Black experience apparently left behind by the grandmother proving perfect inspiration to this end. With the prominent poster of Godard’s La chinoise hanging in the kitchen, it’s tempting to read their funkily cerebral exploits as pure fiction, yet they’re actually a reenactment of Asili’s own experiences in a Marxist commune. Real life informs the fiction elsewhere too, as members of the MOVE Organization come to speak at the house, the camera alights on significant sites for the Black community outside in the Philadelphia streets and the inevitable petty arguments about house rules rear their head. And maybe that’s the point: theory rubs up against practice and sparks duly fly.
by Ephraim Asili
with Eric Lockley, Nozipho Mclean, Chris Jarrell, Julian Rozzell Jr.
USA 2020 English 100’ Colour

Part of the Berlinale Summer Special


  • Eric Lockley
  • Nozipho Mclean
  • Chris Jarrell
  • Julian Rozzell Jr.


Written and Directed by Ephraim Asili
Cinematography Ephraim Asili
Editing Ephraim Asili
Sound Design Ephraim Aili
Sound Stephen McLaughlin
Production Design Ephraim Asili
Casting Ephraim Asili, Gail Keller
Assistant Director Sancia Shiba Nash
Producer Ephraim Asili
Executive Producer Victoria Brooks

Produced by

Asili Vision

Ephraim Asili

Born in 1979 in Roslyn, Pennsylvania, USA. He studied film and video art and works as a filmmaker, DJ and radio host in New York. After several short and medium-length works, The Inheritance is his first feature.


2007 Movie Tote; 8 min. · Points on A Space Age; 49 min. 2010 Forged Ways; 15 min. 2013 American Hunger; 19 min. 2015 Many Thousands Gone; 8 min. 2016 Kindah; 12 min. 2017 Fluid Frontiers; 23 min. · Calder for Peter; 12 min.

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2021