Hair Piece

A Film for Nappy-Headed People

A film by Ayoka Chenzira

1985 | 10 minutes | Color | 16mm/DVD | Order No. 99218


An animated satire on the question of self image for African American women living in a society where beautiful hair is viewed as hair that blows in the wind and lets you be free. Lively tunes and witty narration accompany a quick-paced inventory of relaxers, gels and curlers. Such rituals are all-too familiar to African American women-and indeed to all women confronted with an unattainable ideal of beauty. This short film has become essential for discussions of racism, African American cinema and empowerment. Used by hundreds of groups as diverse as museums, churches, hospitals and hair stylists.


"Lighthearted animation with an edge. Jubilant, exuberant, eccentric...."

Janet Maslin New York Times

"Charming, funny, witty and irreverent. A real delight."

Karen Cooper Film Forum


  • Nat'l Black Programming Consortium, First Place, Cultural Affairs
  • Flaherty Film Seminar


Ayoka Chenzira

Ayoka Chenzira, artist/educator, is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed film and video artist, and is one of the first African-Americans to teach film production in higher education.
Chenzira has worked and lectured extensively on film throughout the United States, South America, and Europe; traversing the African continent collecting oral narratives from women, as well as training emerging filmmakers.

An award-winning artist and recognized pioneer in Black independent cinema, Dr. Chezira is a graduate of New York University (B.F.A. Film), Columbia University/Teachers College (M.A. Education) and is the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in digital media from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Chenzira received her degrees in film production and education from New York University and Columbia University/Teachers’ College. As Professor of Film at The City College of New York, she taught filmmaking to an international student body for nearly twenty years; co-creating the MFA program in Media Arts Production in 1996. Many of her films are in permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, some of which have been translated into French and Japanese.

In 2003, Chenzira created and served as co-director (with M. Bahati Kuumba) of ORAL NARRATIVES AND DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY, a joint venture between Spelman College and the Durban Institute of Technology, where she designed and taught workshops primarily for Zulu students at DIT.

Her distinctive body of work spans fiction, documentary, animation, performance, experimental narratives, and interactive cinema. Her film work includes "Alma’s Rainbow," one of the first 35mm independent films by an African-American woman, along with "Hair Piece: a film for nappyheaded people," "Zajotaand the Boogie Spirit," "My Own TV" and HERadventure. "Queen Sugar" marks her directorial debut for television. (03/19)


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