This Hair is Beautiful: a short film about how hair and identity are intertwined

Akosua was the director of this video. Here she shares her inspiration for the film:

I was shocked to discover that American states including New York and California had to pass a bill in July 2019 banning the discrimination of black people based on their natural hair styles. As well as this, continual news of black children being sent home from school in Britain was an overwhelming reminder that afro hair is still a socio-political battle. Reflecting on myself, I realised that this had also been a personal struggle for me too. Growing up in predominantly white spaces as a mixed raced (White British and Ghanaian) person, I had self-internalised the harmful conception that curly hair was unkempt and ugly. This resulted in chemically straightening my hair in attempt to conform to a standard that I eventually realised I would never quite attain. Thankfully, I now love my hair. There are a plethora of YouTube videos celebrating the natural hair movement taking place, as well as encouragement from my Tongan godmother who has always helped me experiment with hairstyles such as box braids and dismantled the negative stereotype for me that “black hair cannot grow”.

Directing ‘This Hair is Beautiful’ has coincided with my own hair journey and has been refreshing.

To know that these experiences are shared unifies us in an otherwise often isolating situation and gives me hope that one day we won’t have to justify our hair. People of colour are no longer listening to an oppressive perception of afro hair like Ryan’s example of his “dreads” making others perceive him as a “criminal,” and the vibrancy of our contributors’ hair affirmed to me the gift we have of allowing it to be whatever it wants to be. As a result of this, the definition of beautiful hair is beginning to evolve. Content like this will continue to be created, providing POC with more representation in the media, widening the scope of beauty and consequently  drowning out the noise from the straightening hair industry which thrives from us hating our hair. As Stacey puts it perfectly, “the hair that we have on our head is our crown” and I have faith that POC will truly believe this.

Crew List:

Director: Akosua Lune
Producer: Clarissa Leung
Camera and Lighting: Ella Phillips, Matthew Cruz Evans and Tanisha Claudae Fergson
Sound: Jago Stephens and Stephanie Pia Fleming
Music Composer: Stephanie Pia Fleming
BFI Film Academy Mentors: Ses Belfield and Theo Watkins
Song: ‘Blackbird” by Ngaio performed live at Glitch Salon

This documentary was made by young people on the BFI Film Academy programme and delivered by Watershed.

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