Beauty is skin deep.
A new film documenting the effects of colorism in black women will be shown at ImageNation Raw Space in Harlem on June 25, as part of Crystal Ship Mini Indie Film Festival. In the short film “Charcoal,” filmmaker and director Francesca Andre juxtaposes the lives and experiences of two black women navigating through colorism. The nuances of colorism are explored, as well as the external and internal contributing factors that result in it, said Andre.
“When you look at the magazines, commercials, and what’s on television, there’s an ambiguous look and that is what many are looking for,” said Andre.
In her project, she takes a different approach to the subject in an effort to present how one can come to self-discovery and self-love.
“But we got to create a safe space for ourselves because it’s really about starting over and unlearning the lies we’ve been told and owning our own truths,” she said.
Not only is the subject of skin color tackled but so is hair. The preferred hairstyles of choice that many black women make is tied into beauty standards aligned with colorism and how many women of color view themselves, added Andre.
“This is a film about taking the power back, whether it’s with hair or skin color,” she said. “We are here and we are beautiful, and in the film one of the women realizes this and the lies that she’s been told, that’s been keeping this vicious cycle going for generations.”
The succinct title for the project was inspired by a commonly-used term in Haiti to describe very dark complected people, likening them to the color of charcoal, said Andre.
And with the film being nominated for the People’s Choice award in the Trinidad and Tobago film festival, Andre said she wants her brief film to leave viewers with a poignant but inspirational understanding of colorism, and challenge what’s on television.
“It’s not easy to lead by principle and we all go through insecurities in life, but it’s the lack of representation in the media, and that’s why it’s important for filmmakers of color to tell these stories,” said Andre.
“Charcoal” at ImageNation Raw Space [2031 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd. between W. 121st and W. 122nd streets in Harlem, (212) 340-1874, www.image