Friday 07th October 2011 from 16h00 to 17h30
Salle 1 / Auditorium
- Directed by
- Franco Di Chiera
- Written by
- Barbara Bernardini, Greg Colgan, Franco Di Chiera
- Produced by
- Electric Pictures Pty Limited, DocLab s.r.l, ARTE France, Screen Australia and ScreenWest Inc., La Compagnie des Taxi-brousse
Documentary, Australia, 2010, 52 min
We live in a world of "black" and "white". For hundreds of years, human skin colour has been used as a marker of race. Now, science is uncovering the intricate relationship between skin colour and environment to reveal its crucial role in survival and reproduction.
Skin colour tells a fascinating biological tale. When our ancient ancestors in Equatorial Africa lost their body hair and ventured out into the open savannah, their skin had to become dark to resist strong UV radiation. Perfectly adapted to the environment, the black skin of Africans is one of Nature’s greatest achievements for the survival of the human species.
This may not sound new, but in 2000, Penn State University anthropologist Nina Jablonski proposed a startling new explanation as to why human skin has so many colours. Her study suggested that pigmentation did not evolve to prevent skin cancer, but primarily to help the human body maintain the right balance of two crucial vitamins essential for reproduction and body development. One is Vitamin D, produced by skin reacting to sunlight. On the other hand, folic acid - a B vitamin that our bodies need to produce DNA and develop the neural system - can be destroyed by the sun’s UV rays. As a result, skin colour developed as a perfect compromise: allowing enough sunlight to stimulate the production of Vitamin D, but screening the body from harmful rays that destroy folic acid.
Focusing on ground-breaking research and personal accounts of scientists around the world, this documentary powerfully reveals that the evolution of skin colour is solely an adaptation to the environment. It shows that judging people on the basis of colour is not only morally unacceptable, but scientifically wrong. Ultimately, the film buries theories about race and racism and celebrates humanity’s extraordinary diversity.
Debate with :
- Alain Froment, Director of research at IRD, collections of anthropology at Musée de l'Homme, MNHN
- See the press kit of the film