Charcoal is a short film by Connecticut based photographer & filmmaker Francesca Andre, that explores the ramifications of complexion-based discrimination within communities of color, known as colorism.
The recently released film captures the parallel stories of two black women and their lifelong journey to overcome internalized colorism, find self-acceptance and ultimately redemption. Despite the vast distances between them, these women both face a barrage of social messages from strangers and loved ones alike: That their darker complexion makes them less worthy of love, acceptance or respect. Yet through this painful erosion of their self-worth, these women rediscover their power and undergo a metamorphosis. They fully embrace the beauty, versatility and dignity of their melanin and begin to disrupt the generational cycle of self-hatred within communities of color.
To many, colorism is a social disease that exists not just among black communities, but in many parts of Asia and Latin America. Discussions on race, class, and gender have become more common, but the conversation on the destructive, generational cycle of colorism is lacking. The recent cultural shift towards self-acceptance (#melaninpoppin) was created by women of darker complexions, whom face a barrage of messages that say their skin makes unworthy of love, acceptance or respect.
The film’s writer and director, Francesca Andre, grew up in Haiti where skin bleaching remains very common. Charcoal hopes to spark conversations that address these colonial traumas, and show that redefining one’s own beauty standards is possible and often necessary for one’s survival.
Francesca Andre has a masters in film and television from Sacred Heart University and her career began front of the camera as a commercial print model with print ads in USA Today, Eyecare Business, Hype Hair Magazine, Essence, BET, Wix, WWE, and Time magazine. Now behind the camera, she is the creative director for the Fanm Kanson Network and her work has circulated in publications such as the New York Post, New York Daily News, Connecticut Post, Daily Mail, Ellements Magazine, Fairfield Living Magazine, Sheen Magazine, Afropunk, Global Voices, etc
Watch Charcoal trailer here