Skin (2008 film)
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|Directed by||Anthony Fabian|
|Produced by||Anthony Fabian
|Written by||Helen Crawley
|Music by||Helene Muddiman|
|Editing by||St. John O'Rorke|
|Distributed by||BBC Films (UK)|
|Running time||107 minutes|
Skin is a British-South African 2008 biographical film directed by Anthony Fabian, about Sandra Laing, a South African woman born to white parents who was classified as "Coloured" during the apartheid era, due to a genetic case of Atavism. Skin premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 7 September 2009 . The film was released to a limited number of US cinemas on 30 October 2009. It started showing in South Africa on 22 January 2010, and in Australia and New Zealand 25 July 2010.
The year is 1965, and 10 year-old Sandra and her parents, Abraham and Sannie, are white Afrikaners. They are shopkeepers in a remote area of the Eastern Transvaal and, despite Sandra's mixed-race appearance, have lovingly brought her up as their white little girl. Sandra is sent to a boarding school in the neighbouring town of Piet Retief, where her (white) brother Leon is also studying, but parents and teachers complain that she does not belong. She is examined by State officials, reclassified as coloured, and expelled from the school. Sandra's parents are shocked, but Abraham fights through the courts to have the classification reversed. The story becomes an international scandal and media pressure forces the law to change, so that Sandra becomes officially white again.
By the time she is 17, Sandra realises she is never going to be accepted by the white community. She falls in love with Petrus, a black man and the local vegetable seller, and begins an illicit love affair. Abraham threatens to shoot Petrus and disown Sandra. Sannie is torn between her husband's rage and her daughter's predicament. Sandra elopes with Petrus to Swaziland. Abraham alerts the police, and has them arrested and put in prison for the illegal border crossing. Sandra is released by the local magistrate to return home with her parents, but she instead decides to return to Petrus, prompting her father to disown her.
Now Sandra must live her life as a coloured woman in South Africa for the first time, with no running water, no sanitation and little income. Although she feels more at home in this community, she desperately misses her parents and yearns for a reunion. She and her mother make attempts to communicate, but are consistently thwarted by Sandra's father. Late in his life, when he is too sick to act on his own, he reconsiders and asks his wife to take him to visit Sandra. Sandra's mother, angry that his newfound guilt had surfaced only after he had for 10 years stubbornly ignored her own emotional torment and longing for a reunion, refuses his request and says that neither of them deserves Sandra's forgiveness.
Eventually, Sandra's marriage to Petrus deteriorates and she leaves him, taking their two children with her, when he becomes physically abusive. She looks for her parents at that time, but finds they had since moved from her childhood home. Not knowing where they are, she continues on with her life, raising her children by herself. When the county's apartheid government comes to an end, there is renewed media interest in her story. Sandra's mother sees Sandra interviewed on television and writes to her to inform her of her father's death two years earlier. The letter provides no return address nor any other clue as to Sannie's whereabouts, but receiving it prompts Sandra to renew her search. Eventually, she finds her mother residing in a nursing home and the two are happily reunited.
An epilogue informs the viewer that Sandra's mother died in 2001, while her two brothers continue to refuse to see her.
- Sophie Okonedo ... Sandra Laing
- Sam Neill ... Abraham Laing
- Alice Krige ... Sannie Laing
- Tony Kgoroge ... Petrus Zwane
- Terri Ann Eckstein ... Elsie Laing (aged 19)
- Bongani Masondo ... Henry Laing (aged 20)
- Ella Ramangwane ... Young Sandra Laing
- Jonathan Pienaar ... Van Niekerk
- Hannes Brummer ... Leon Laing
- Onida Cowan ... Miss Van Uys
- Lauren Das Neves ... Elize 
Skin has won 19 international festival awards, including Santa Barbara International Film Festival (Audience Award), Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival (Audience and Jury Awards), AFI Dallas International Film Festival (Audience Award), Palm Beach International Film Festival (Jury Award, Best Film), Rochester High Falls International Film Festival (Audience Award), Tri-Continental, South Africa (Audience Award), Bordeaux Cinema Science Film Festival (Grand Jury Prize, Best Film), Mediterrante Film Festival (Bari), Italy (Best Film), Belize International Film Festival (Audience Award), Moondance International Film Festival, USA (Best Score, Hélène Muddiman), Accolade Award For Excellence (Original Score Hélène Muddiman), United Nations Time For Peace Award (Voted by 21 UN Abassadors), Amnesty International Humanitarian Award (Italy), Griffon Environmental Award, Giffoni Film Festival, Italy, Orange Film Prize, Ability Media International Awards, MAE Moseac Award for Best Independent Film, MAE Moseac Award for Best Actress (Sophie Okonedo), Bahamas International Film Festival, Rising Star Award, Sophie Okonedo.
British Independent Film Awards 2009, Best Actress (Sophie Okonedo) NAACP Image Awards 2010 (Outstanding Foreign Film and Best Actress, Sophie Okonedo) Black Reel Awards 2010 (Sophie Okonedo, Best Actress) Political Film Society, (Best Film) Ivor Novello Awards (Best Score), Hélène Muddiman