Still from The Shirley Card
Still from The Shirley Card
 

The Shirley Card

by Sonya Mwambu
This experimental film unraveling layers of Black history and artistry against the racial bias of Kodak's "Shirley" skin-tone cards.
2017  ·  3m  ·  Canada
English
About the Film

Gesturing to the racial bias behind Kodak’s mid-century skin-tone “Shirley cards,” Sonya Mwambu brings deeply textured layers of Black artistry, history and the racial politics of popular culture. Initially optimized for white skin through the 1970s, Shirley cards eventually began to be produced with a wider range of skin tones in the late 20th century.

In this poetic short film, Mwambu critiques the pervasive racial bias in commercial photography, marketing and pop culture — bolstered by a material scarcity of tools and techniques to reflect racial diversity in 20th century photography. Going beyond the surface, THE SHIRLEY CARD reminds us of the additional burden of labour that used to be required to process photographs with racially diverse subjects, and the standards to which our society calibrates the very tools we use to create images.

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Editor
Sonya Mwambu
Cinematographer
Sonya Mwambu
Starring
Kaku Kenyi, Rebecaa Fadoju, Michah Woods, Mensimah Kwofie and Renee Antoine

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