White Skin, White Masks
White Skin, White Masks is a feature documentary about whiteness, white supremacy, race, and racism in US and Canadian popular culture.
UPDATE (SEPT 14, 2017)
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported this project so far. Unfortunately, it does not appear that this crowdfunding campaign will be successful. However, I will still be proceeding with the project with the resources available to me.
If you would still like to support this film, your donations will be extremely helpful to the completion of this project. While I will likely not be able to cover expenses outlined below, even small donations would go a long way toward things like film stock, processing, and film transfers, as a portion of this film will be shot on 16mm. I will honor all rewards outlined in this campaign, beginning immediately for rewards that are available now (such as previously completed projects).
Donations can be made with credit cards through my website store, which is hosted by payment processor squareup.com.
Thank you all again for your support for this project!
ABOUT THE FILM
White Skin, White Masks is a feature-length documentary film about whiteness: the imagery and imaginary of whiteness as well as the psychic life of whiteness. Drawing from everything from home videos to Hollywood cinema, the film explores how whiteness is imagined, embodied, and maintained through visual culture. Building from the writing of colonial psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, and others in the fields of psychoanalysis and philosophies of race, I'm hoping this project will encourage both students and wider audiences to think more deeply about race, racism, and white supremacy in our everyday lives.
I've put together a sample video to give you a sense of the style and approach I am taking with the film. White Skin, White Masks is an essay documentary which uses a mixture of original footage, archival film & video, and voice over to analyze the psychic life of whiteness through the imagery and imaginary of white supremacy as it is captured in through visual technologies (from amateur film and video to Hollywood cinema).
Watch the teaser video here:
My goal in making this film is nothing short of the liberation, for all of us, from the racist, settler colonial societies we live in. I start from the premise that racism and colonization are constructs that, while they have no basis in biology, nonetheless produce sick and violent societies that elevate white people through the denigration, oppression, and genocide of Indigenous peoples and people of color.
Drawing from the work of Fanon, I assume that this psychical sickness that is whiteness permeates the psychic life of people of all races in our colonized nations. As such, the collective investment in the maintenance of white supremacy causes great harm to Indigenous people and people of color, but also is foundational to the all of the toxic institutions (i.e. captialism) of our settler societies that has ramifications from mass murder and incarceration (neo-slavery) to the environmental destruction of our planet.
In short, I argue that whiteness and white supremacy, while conferring some benefits to all white people, in the grand scheme of things largely benefits a very small minority who control most of the wealth and power. Most of the rest of us would benefit much more from rejecting whiteness and white supremacy in order to band together in solidarity to take back the power from these few, envisioning and building new ways of relating and living together that would benefit everyone. So why don't we? Beyond the material and economic benefits of being white, what are our psychical investments in whiteness? Why are so many of us content to live in a world that causes others so much harm just because racism and white supremacy appear on the surface not to harm us?
These are some of the questions I take up in this project, with the goal of transforming the ways in which we as a society understand the pervasiveness of whiteness and white supremacy, imagine future possibilities, and learn to divest from the racist occupation of not only our cultural institutions, but also our own minds.
I've set the original goal fairly low at $3500 because this is the minimum amount I need to complete the project. This would cover:
- $2000 - a new computer to do all the editing and post-production work (my previous system died this past march)
- $1200 - for a portion of the fee for the final sound mix
- $300 - for Kickstarter's fees
Dr. Kami Chisholm is an educator, curator, and media activist with a passion for anti-racist, queer, social justice filmmaking.
Chisholm holds a PhD in History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as an MFA in Film Production from York University. Chisholm has made more than a dozen films that have screened at festivals, universities, and events worldwide, including Pride Denied: Homonationalism & the Future of Queer Politics (Media Education Foundation and Vtape, 2016). Her current work eschews disciplinary and disciplining divisions between narrative/documentary, written/visual, art/academics, history/fiction, analysis/ storytelling and revels in assemblage critique of topics such as homonationalism, settler colonialism, racism, consumer capitalism, mental illness, and sexual violence.
Chisholm is a co-founder of the Toronto Queer Film Festival and sits on the board of the Pleasure Dome experimental film programming collective. Originally from the US, she is currently based in Toronto, Canada.
PRAISE FOR KAMI CHISHOLM'S PRIDE DENIED:
"To criticize the celebration of LGBTQ advances by the mainstream media is by no means to undermine or take for granted how far we have come in the struggle for gay rights: It shows a valid concern for the ways in which corporations engage with LGBTQ causes to make gay liberation profitable. Commercial interests of corporate companies -- especially when it comes to advocating gay rights -- should always be questioned, which is why Chisholm's documentary is an important one. By highlighting the ways in which social issues are often obfuscated by the mainstream media and its appropriation of gay culture, Pride Denied opens up space for valuable discussion." - Indiewire
"On the heels of the US Supreme Court decision to grant legal rights for same-sex marriage in that country, we are thrilled and indeed proud to announce our support for an in-production documentary that questions the mainstreaming of pride and the assimilation of queer politics into hetero-mainstream culture. Kami Chisholm’s bold documentary Pride Denied moves beyond same-sex marriage, parades and gays in the military to examine ongoing sites of oppression in the US and Canada for queer and trans people that have been largely overlooked by mainstream media in the clamouring to celebrate the legal right to marry." - Cinema Politica (which selected Pride Denied for its "Adopt-a-Doc" program)
"The historic victory of same-sex marriage becoming legal nationwide within the U.S. has been a monumental win for the LGBTQ community. Yet, the ongoing battle for LGBTQ rights and fight against queer injustice is far from over. Pride Denied hopes to tackle many of these ignored issues within the LGBTQ community (like job discrimination, unjust immigration laws and failed healthcare policies) that continue to hinder countless queer individuals. Pride Denied will also question our community's reflection on the concept of LGBTQ pride to see if it truly embraces our diverse narratives as a whole." - The LGBT Update
"Gay marriage is legal: our work here is done, right? Wrong. This provocative documentary investigates the World Pride Parade in Toronto to address the limits of contemporary gay civil rights politics. In the rush to secure gay marriage rights and inclusion in the military, North American mainstream GLBTQ civil rights campaigns have forgotten — even excluded — those people who do not conform to respectable, gender-normative, white, upwardly mobile, consuming gay and lesbian lifestyles. Leading queer and trans activists and scholars critique how mainstream gay rights discourses have been used to assert homonationalism abroad, where the limited acceptance of gays and lesbians in the West becomes a standard by which other countries should be judged. The documentary addresses such debates as the corporatization of GLBT pride parades, Israel’s use of gay marketing to “pinkwash” the country’s treatment of Palestinians, the class privilege underpinning gay marriage, and the increased harassment of poor queers, homeless people, and sex workers by Toronto police (as elsewhere) in efforts to gentrify the city. This documentary asserts a necessary reminder of the intersections among gender, sexual, racial, economic, and regional inequalities and how gay rights for a privileged few make invisible once again the daily struggles of many GLBTQ citizens around the world. Likely to provoke lively debates at screenings and in classrooms, the documentary offers tools to begin a conversation about the work still to do in achieving true social equality." - Katherine Sender | Professor of Communication, University of Michigan
Risks and challenges
Barring natural or other unforeseen disasters, I am confident that I will complete this film. I've previously run two successful Kickstarter campaigns (and completed the projects), and as a fairly experienced filmmaker I understand my process well.
Thus, the major risk to this project is timing. The fewer resources I have to work with, the longer a project takes to finish. My intention is to finalize this film in time for the Fall 2018 semester, but there is some risk the film could take a bit longer, as delays are commonplace in filmmaking. But I've actually never been more excited about a film I've been working on, and nothing will get in my way of completing this. :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)