Many of Colorism Healing’s readers are movie fans, and several have even been looking for movies and films about colorism in particular. While the documentary Dark Girls and its sequel Light Girls are widely known among those interested in colorism, there are other notable movies and films that address this issue. However, after searching around online, I realized it wasn’t exactly the easiest task to locate all of them. There weren’t any sites with a basic list of colorism films that readers could browse. So I created this for you.

Movies, Films, Documentaries about Colorism

  1. A Question of Color (1993)

    Said to be the first documentary to address colorism, this film focuses specifically on African Americans. It traces the roots of colorism back to American slavery, examines gender differences, features news media and rap music, and touches on a range of issues including beauty, employment, marriage, and friendship.

    Genre: Documentary (56 minutes)

    Producer/Director: Kathe Sandler

    Executive Producer: St. Clair Bourne

    Co-Writer: Luke Harris

    Region: United States

    Click here to buy this film

  2. A Darker Side of Fair (2004)

    This film addresses global diversity by focusing on a “fairness fetish” within modern Indian society. Viewers will see the origins of the fair-skinned ideal in ancient Indian culture, modern forces that perpetuate the “business” of fair skin, growing trends related to gender, and various cultural spheres affected by this issue such as marriage and entertainment.

    Genre: Short Documentary (25 minutes)

    Producer/Director: Leslie Deepak

    Region: India

    Click here to buy this film

  3. A Girl Like Me (2005)

    Growing out of a high school English literature project, this film features interviews with a number of teenage girls and a reproduction of the infamous “doll test.” The film presents various voices on a range of issues related to colorism, including hair, history, beauty, personal growth, style and fashion, and self-love.

    Genre: Short Documentary (13 minutes)

    Producer/Director: Kiri Davis

    Region: United States

    Click here to watch this film

  4. ABC News 20/20 Colorism (2007)

    This news segment features an experiment to determine if participants would rank people’s intelligence according to how dark or light the person appeared in a photograph. It also includes interviews from a number of actors who’ve experienced type-casting based on being dark-skinned or light-skinned.

    Genre: News Segment (13 minutes)

    Producer: ABC News

    Region: United States

    Click here to buy the DVD

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  6. Skin (2008)

    Based on a true story, this drama and romance follows the life of a colored woman born to white South African parents. The movie depicts her fight to cope with other people’s reactions to her appearance as well as her struggle to choose between life with her family or the man she loves.

    Genre: Drama, Romance (107 minutes)

    Director: Anthony Fabian

    Writers: Helen Crawly, Jessie Keyt

    Stars: Sophie Okonedo, Sam Neill, Alice Krige

    Region: South Africa

    Click here to buy this film

  7. The Skin Quilt Project (2010)

    This film explores the issue colorism among African Americans through the voices of a community of quilters. Their stories speak of the significance of the quilting tradition in connecting community and remembering heritage.

    Genre: Documentary (88 minutes)

    Producer/Director: Lauren Cross

    Click here to buy this film

  8. Shadeism (2010)

    This film focuses on the issue of skin color bias among women in the African, Caribbean, and South Asian diasporas. Taking a look at historical origins and contemporary effects with an eye toward change, this film is a good introduction to colorism as a global issue.

    Genre: Short Documentary (20 minutes)

    Director/Executive Producer: Nayani Thiyagarajah

    Producers: Kate Fraser, Camaro West, Kikhil D’Souza, Vanessa Rodrigues, Muna Ali, Jill Andrew, Rakhi Mutta, Amrit Singh, Khadra Ali

    Animator: Jazzmen Lee-Johnson

    Region: Canada

    Click here to watch this film

  9. “Good Hair” and other Dubious Distinctions (2011)

    Debose enters the colorism conversation through the all too common notion of “good hair.” Framed with the thoughts of a pregnant mother, the documentary weaves in various perspectives on black hair politics and what it means in the scheme of colorism.

    Genre: Short Documentary (34 minutes)

    Director/Writer/Producer: C. S. DeBose

    Click here to learn more about this film

  10. Dark Girls (2011)

    A documentary exploring colorism, it’s origins and contemporary manifestations, with a specific focus on how it impacts many dark-skinned girls and women.

    Genre: Documentary (71 minutes)

    Producers/Directors: Bill Duke, D. Channsin Berry

    Region: United States

    Click here to buy this film

  11. Negro: A Docu-series about Latino Identity (2012)

    Negro explores the “color complex” (colorism) among Latinos through a number of interviews. Discussions include a range of relevant concerns including history, colonization, racism, diaspora, and personal identity. The film tries to convey the fact that Latinos are diverse, and the series takes viewers to various locations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Genre: Documentary Series

    Producer/Director: Dash Harris

    Region: United States, Latin America

    Click here to learn more or buy/rent this film

  12. Fair? (2012)

    This film explores modern India’s obsession with fair skin through several interviews with actors, beauticians, children, housewives, and more. The purpose of the film is to uncover the meaning of fair skin and the kinds of social capital it affords in India today.

    Genre: Short Documentary (22 minutes)

    Director: Vishnupriya (Dia) Das

    Region: India

    Click here to watch this film

  13. Yellow Fever (2012)

    Yellow Fever is an international, award-winning film by Ng’endo Mukii. This short film is a mixed media work of art. It’s unique in that it zooms in (sometimes literally) on the unsettling emotional and psychological experience of internalized white supremacy.

    Genre: Short Film (7 minutes)

    Producer/Director: Ng’endo Mukii

    Region: Kenya

    Click here to watch this film

  14. Imagine a Future (2013)

    This film, which debuted on BET, chronicles one dark-skinned girl’s journey from hurt to healing. Along with Janet’s story, viewers get to see and hear various black women, including some celebrities, discuss the issues of beauty and self-love as it pertains to black women. The film includes segments on Black Girls Rock and an ancestral and personal discovery in South Africa.

    Genre: Documentary

    Producer/Director: Lisa Cortés

    Director: Shola Lynch

    Region: United States

    Click here to watch this film

  15. Light Girls (2015)

    This is the sequel to Dark Girls. It expands on the discussion of colorism by highlighting the voices and experiences of various light-skinned women, often celebrities or people in entertainment.

    Genre: Documentary

    Producer: Stephanie Frederic

    Director: Bill Duke

  16. Shadeism: Digging Deeper (2015)

    See #5 above.

  17. Skinned (2015)

    This movie depicts the journey of a woman who once severely bleached her skin in order to attract a guy. A decade later, her life is completely changed, but the past still haunts her physically and emotionally. With the help of a psychiatrist, she embarks on her personal journey toward healing.

    Genre: Drama, Romance (88 minutes)

    Directors: LisaRaye McCoy, Avery O. Williams

    Writers: Clarice Kulah, Sharon Tomlinson, Avery O. Williams, Lotten Yeaney

    Stars: LisaRaye McCoy, Jasmine Burke, Brad James

    Click here to buy this film