The 2017 film’s subject is colorism — defined as prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone.
Influenced by predominately-white societies, colorism is widespread among black women — eating away at their self-esteem and maintaining an enormous industry of skin brighteners fading creams, bleaching treatments and other skin lightening products.
“My intention with Charcoal is to spark conversations that address these colonial traumas, and show that redefining one’s own beauty standards is possible and often necessaryfor one’s survival which the characters in the film had to in order to heal and reclaim their power,” said Andre, the Connecticut-based writer, director and cinematographer. Charcoal was edited Andre’s husband, Gustavo Azael Torres.
“Like many black women around the globe, I have also experienced it and wanted to show the devastation from the perspective of a child, a teenager and a young adult. To many, colorism is a social disease that exists not just among black communities, but in many parts of Asia and Latin America,” she said, adding that “discussions on race, class, and gender have become more common, but the conversation on the destructive, generational cycle of colorism is lacking.”
The film stars Chengusoyane Kargbo, Lorry Francois, Heather Smith, Kweta Henry, Destiny Derosiers, Deanna Derosiers and Khamaly Bryan.
The next screening of “Charcoal” will be Feb. 9 at St. John’s University’s Manhattan campus, 101 Astor Place, at 7 p.m. as part of “Claudia Rankine’s ‘Citizen’ in Pictures” event, curated and moderated by Michelle Materre of the Creatively Speaking film series.
Charcoal can also be seen March 14 at BAM — Brooklyn part of the “Through Her Eyes: Contemporary shorts by Women of Color-Identify” event, also presented by Materre.