Recently restored by the British Film Institute, artist Isaac Julien and curator Mark Nash’s collaborative film is a biographical portrait of the influential psychologist, philosopher, writer and revolutionary Frantz Fanon, named after his book Black Skin, White Masks (1952) about the psychological effects of colonialism. With this film, Julien and Nash interpret ‘masks’ in the singular, reflecting upon Fanon’s critical theories and personal experience in Martinique that formed the basis for his writing. Fact and fiction are mixed in a complex web of stylistic approaches and narrative devices, with historical re-enactments played by actor Colin Salmon.
Additional archival footage and photographs, presented alongside interviews with theorists Homi K. Bhabha and the late Stuart Hall, embody Fanon’s principles and their continued significance to post-colonial discourse today. Originally conceived for television, Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask was revised and expanded to critical acclaim. The British Film Institute’s digital restoration from the original 16mm negatives enables this pioneering work to reach new audiences and re-join contemporary discourse 20 years after its initial release.
Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask, 1996, Dir. Isaac Julien and Mark Nash, DCP, colour, sound, 70 min
Becky Hall is a trustee of the Stuart Hall Foundation. She studied literature before training at the Tavistock Clinic as a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and has worked in Child and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for over ten years. She recently qualified as a psychoanalyst with the British Psychoanalytic Association and works for the NHS in fostering and adoption, and also in private practice.
Isaac Julien is an artist and filmmaker who produces photography, film and installation works. He co-founded Sankofa Film and Video Collective in 1983 and was an active member until 1992. His film works include Looking for Langston (1989), Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (1996), Ten Thousand Waves (2010) and Playtime (2014). Julien received a Turner Prize nomination in 2001 and won the Royal Academy of Arts’ Charles Wollaston Award in 2017 for his five-screen installation Western Union: Small Boats (2007). His work is included in numerous prominent collections including Tate, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Mark Nash is a curator and academic, currently teaching with the Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. Formerly, he was Professor and Head of Department of the Curating Contemporary Art Programme at the Royal College of Art, London. He is a frequent collaborator with artist Isaac Julien, with whom he conceived Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (1996). Significant curatorial projects include contributions to Documenta11 (2002) and the Arena of the 56th Venice Biennale (2015), which featured a complete reading of Karl Marx's Das Kapital as part of All The World's Futures, as well as Viva L’Italia (2017) at the Museo Civico Archeologico and The Coming Community (2018) at MAMbo in Bologna.
Selina Nwulu is a writer, poet and essayist from based in London. Her work often reflects on notions of (un)belonging, identity and personal politics within social and environmental justice. Nwulu was Young People’s Laureate for London 2015–16. She published her first chapbook collection The Secrets I Let Slip with Burning Eye Books in 2015 and also writes publications including The Guardian, New Humanist and Red Pepper. She has toured her work nationally and internationally and appeared at festivals including Glastonbury, Edinburgh Fringe, Cúirt International Festival of Literature and Fiery Tongues, and participated in a literary tour in India with the British Council in 2016. Recently, Nwulu was nominated Writer and Creator in Residence at the Free Word Centre and Wellcome Trust, studying how food connects to our health and matters of social justice.