Skin (1995 film)

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Directed by Vincent O'Connell
Produced by Tapson/Steel Films for British Screen
Channel 4 Films
Written by Sarah Kane
Starring Ewen Bremner
Marcia Rose
Release date
  • October 1995 (1995-10)
Running time
11 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Skin is an 11-minute short film directed by Vincent O'Connell and starring Ewen Bremner and Marcia Rose.[1] Produced by Tapson/Steel Films for British Screen and Channel 4 Films (now Film4 Productions), it was filmed in September 1995.[2] The screenplay was written in the summer of that year by British playwright Sarah Kane.

It was first screened at the London Film Festival in October 1995, and was later given its television debut on Channel 4 at 11.35pm on 17 June 1997. An original airtime of 9.40pm was pushed back after television executives became worried about the depiction of violence and racism in the film,[2] which, according to the British tabloid The Daily Mail, they saw as "one of the most violent and racially offensive programmes ever to be made for television in this country".[3] Vincent O'Connell was nominated for a Golden Bear award in the category "Best Short Film" for the film at the 1996 Berlin International Film Festival.[4]

The film's screenplay was only Kane's second work, written after her 1995 debut Blasted but before 1996's Phaedra's Love. The screenplay appears in the complete collection of Sarah Kane's work, Sarah Kane: Complete Plays, published in 2001 by Methuen.[5]

Bremner and Rose, who had never met prior to making the film, became romantically involved during its shooting, and subsequently had a child together.[6]


Billy, a young skinhead, joins in a brutal racist attack on a black wedding party in Brixton, London, but then finds himself drawn to Marcia, a black woman whose flat is visible from his window. He visits Marcia and the couple have sex. From this point, the power dynamic between the two begins to reverse: in separate scenes, she slaps his face repeatedly as he is tied to the bed, feeds him dog food, and scrubs off his tattoos with bleach (significantly, this includes a tattoo of the Union Flag). Finally, Marcia carves her name on his back. Despite his pleas, she rejects him, finding solace with Kath, her flatmate, while Billy unsuccessfully takes a drug overdose and is saved by Neville.



  1. ^ "Skin (1995) - Channel 4 film review". Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  2. ^ a b "IN-YER-FACE THEATRE". Aleks Sierz. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  3. ^ Sierz, Aleks; Saunders, Graham (3 June 2004). "Skin". The Literary Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  4. ^ "Skin (1995)". Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  5. ^ Kane, Sarah (2001). Sarah Kane: Complete Plays. London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-74260-1. 
  6. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (1 July 2000). "A sad hurrah". Retrieved 2007-03-13. 

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