After winning a swimming competition, Dom lives a racist situation that transports her to her deepest traumas.

SKINDEEP is an animated short film that brings race-based trauma to the surface. Co-written with Dr. Robert Carter Ph.D. Psychologist and Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University and in partnership with EMPOWHER NY and Ingrid Silva.

All characters were created and developed by black female illustrators, who shared their experiences and talent to bring the characters to life. Then each frame was made in watercolor, resulting in more than 1600 manual paintings. Thousands of newspaper articles about racial discrimination, from the 1920s to today, were the canvases for this animation.

To further reinforce the “watery atmosphere” of the film, inspired by the tears of victims of race-based trauma, we’ve developed a new technique by capturing the reflection of each frame through the movement of the water in a small aquarium.

Even 100 years of news stories barely began to uncover the devastating consequences of racial hostility.
This film was inspired by real events. Race-based traumatic stress is real.
The injury is real.

Can you tell us what inspired you to bring this story to life?

The theme itself asks for an urgency, it is necessary to bring it to the surface.
When we are telling Dom’s story, we are talking about thousands of people who experience this type of violence every day.

It is necessary to start the discussion so that we can walk towards breaking this systemic cycle of violence.

Why did you decide to go with animation to tell this story?

Animation allows us to build universes.

As we had a lot of feelings and subjectivities to show in our film, it seemed like the perfect language to mix the density of the theme with layers of art and new experimental techniques that we were looking for.

Can you tell us a little more about the technique?

The animation was done digitally, printed frame by frame and hand painted in watercolor.
Each frame was photographed and after the entire composition process,
the result was filmed in the reflection of the water in an aquarium.

What was the most challenging part of making ‘Skindeep’?

Many steps in this animation were experimental and analogical, which has its innovative side,
but it also becomes a challenge because we needed to figure out what worked and what didn’t along the way.
Water was a challenge in both steps: with watercolors and in the filming inside the aquarium, because it has its own behavior.

We can’t control it. There are thousands of attempts and tests before reaching the result we see on the screen.

Watch the Making Of SKINDEEP to get a small glimpse of the incredible effort that went behind this film.