Pulse Films, the U.K. banner behind recent Sky smash Gangs of London — launching on AMC later this year — is flexing its unscripted muscles, and is set to produce a documentary about how hair shapes Black experiences in modern Britain.
Commissioned by Channel 4 and with the working title Black Hair, the hour-long film — co-funded by Dove and Unilever Entertainment — will ask some of the most important questions facing the Black British population, and and how it is that hair became the most misunderstood, celebrated and fetishized aspect of the black experience. From looking at the science behind what makes black hair different and the beauty routines that are a rite of passage and source of empowerment for many, to feelings of otherness and rejection, producers say that Black Hair will “crack open a subject that too often has been off limits.”
Academic and broadcaster Emma Dabiri (author of the memoir Don’t Touch My Hair) will lead the conversation, talking to men and women whose identities have been shaped by their hair.
Nicole Charles, whose credits as a theatre director include Sing Your Heart Out for the Lads, and Emilia, which launched at The Globe before heading to the West End, will direct, while Nelesh Dhand will serve as executive producer for Pulse Films.
“Our hair tells many stories; of history, of migration, of enslavement and freedom, of resistance and empowerment, of technological, mathematic and artistic expression. After many years of research, I’m so delighted to be able to bring some of the themes explored in my book to the screen,” said Dabiri.
Dhand, creative director of non-fiction at Pulse Films, added: “We are thrilled to be part of this important story, and to be collaborating with Nicole Charles on her first documentary, alongside Emma Dabiri. This film is a brilliant opportunity to ask important questions about identity and belonging and to celebrate an often-overlooked perspective on hair.”