Director Bill Duke presents documentary ‘Dark Girls’

Tara Stone

Director Bill Duke presented his documentary “Dark Girls” in Ahmanson Lecture Hall Monday, April 29. This was the film’s second showing on campus in six weeks, as Duke could not attend the first screening, which his co-director D. Channsin Berry hosted.

Berry and producer Bradinn French first screened the documentary Feb. 9 to students, parents and alumni in Ahmanson Lecture Hall. The 80-minute screening was open to students in order to help raise awareness for Black History Month.

“It was great to show it in the Harvard-Westlake environment because even the African-American students didn’t know a lot about that particular issue or that it was an issue at all,” Black Leadership and Awareness Culture Club member Jessica Murdock ’14 said.

Duke recently received a Lifetime Achievement Tribute from the Director’s Guild of America.

“I’m just a filmmaker,” Duke said. “I make movies to educate, entertain, and inform in order to spark a conversation. The next steps are up to you.”

The screening was coordinated by BLACC advisor Janiece Richard. The film has been shown at the Toronto International Film Festival. It covers discrimination within the African-American community against dark-skinned girls compared to lighter-skinned girls within contexts such as other ethnicities, the media, the workforce and men’s thoughts on women.

“Its content affects our entire population in a subconscious way and shapes young girls’ views of themselves,’” BLACC leader Arielle Winfield ‘13 said.

For Berry and Duke, the subject of skin color was almost secondary to their portrayal of problems of aesthetic judgment which all women face in society. Berry recalled the surprise he felt that so many colored women wished to speak their mind on lighter versus darker skin, and how speaking to them made him want to question women outside of the black community as well.

“All women are ‘dark girls’ at some point in their lives. What’s making the women dark is the lack of self-esteem,” Berry said.

Berry is now working on a three-part series called “The Black Line (A Profile of the African-American Woman).”