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Bridgeport Filmmaker Takes On Colorism In Her Award-Winning Short Movie

Filmmaker and photographer Francesca Andre
Filmmaker and photographer Francesca Andre Photo Credit: Contributed
The short film "Charcoal" by Bridgeport resident Francesca Andre is making the festival circuit.
The short film "Charcoal" by Bridgeport resident Francesca Andre is making the festival circuit. Video Credit: Gustavo

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A Bridgeport filmmaker is sparking discussions and winning awards for “Charcoal,” her multi-layered take on the oft-hidden topic of skin tone-based discrimination.

While discussions of gender, class and race abound around the world, the topic of “colorism,” bias based on the darkness of one’s skin doesn’t come up as much, according to Francesca Andre, who holds a master’s degree in film and television from Fairfield’s Sacred Heart University.

“Even while women have seen progress with regards to inclusivity and representation in the fashion industry and in media, there are many darker-skinned women who receive, often from their own loved ones, messages that say their complexion makes them unworthy of love, acceptance or respect,” she said.

Written, produced and filmed by Andre, “Charcoal” depicts the stories of two women as they embark on a lifelong journey to overcome internalized colorism and find self-acceptance and, ultimately, redemption.

Andre, who was raised in Haiti where she said skin bleaching is still common, hopes her short film will spark conversations on colonial trauma and empower audiences to redefine their own standards of beauty.

The film has been well received on the festival circuit. It won Best Short Film at the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival, a Visionary Award at the Crystal Ship Mini Indie Film Festival and a Juror’s Certificate at the Women of African Descent Film Festival.

The film will be screened at the 8th annual Silicon Valley African Film Festival this weekend and is slated to screen at the Yonkers Film Festival, running Nov. 3 to 8. It was shown at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival in September and will be shown at the Slum Film Festival in Kenya this month.

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