Jessica Melville-Brown

Research output: Non-textual outputExhibition


Screening of the short film 'Lazerous', which was later developed into a documentary produced by Madonna and directed by David Darg, and went on to win the Tribecca Disruptive Innovation Award at the Tribecca Film Festival 2019.

Lazerous was filmed in 2016, examining identity in Malawi. It all began when I met Lazerous busking in New Town, Lilongwe. I explore the identity of Lazerous, a Malawian musician living with Albinism. The film describes, in Lazerous's words, the sadness and horror of living in threat due to his skin pigmentation. The deep-rooted culture of witchcraft in both rural and urban areas of SubSaharan Africa is the cause of these killings and mutilations. The killings and attacks increase in the lead up to elections. Thousands of dollars are offered in return for the body parts, which the witchdoctors claim bring 'luck' and 'wealth'. The vast majority of cases involving crimes against people with albinism do not go before a court because of a lack of funds and legal aid support for suspected perpetrators. Even where cases have been brought to court, the accused have often been released due to flawed investigations and a lack of relevant admissible evidence.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, this was the start of a long journey, that through the power of storytelling, would start Lazerous on a life-changing trajectory...
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputFilm
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventLOADED 2020, Genders and Identities in Design exhibition, University of Brighton, and Brighton CCA, 2020 - University of Brighton
Duration: 6 Mar 2020 → …


  • Identity
  • feminism and gender
  • Post-Colonialism
  • Africa
  • Albinism


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