UK, 1996 (MIFF 1997, Documentaries)
Director: Isaac Julien
Isaac Julien's film is an eloquent exposition of the life and work of the Martinique-born psychiatrist and cultural theorist, Frantz Fanon. Between his arrival in France in the mid-1940s and his death in 1961, Fanon worked as a psychiatrist, published seminal books on the psychology of racial difference, and joined the Algerian National Liberation Front during that country's war with France. Fanon's writings examine the psychological effects of colonialism on the dark-skinned individual, and in later years develop a militant anti-colonial stance. In Julien's film these ideas are shown to stem from Fanon's experiences in migrating from the West Indies to France, and later to Algeria.
Taking its title from Fanon's book, Black Skin White Mask is punctuated by insights from critical luminaries, such as Stuart Hall and Frangois Verges, and people who knew Fanon, along with archival and reconstructed footage. Fanon believed that people from the colonies became alienated through being objectified by whites in the colonising nation. The film situates this 'ethnocentric gaze' within Fanon's larger anti-colonial concerns to reveal a body of work which retains wide relevance today.