Saturday, October 31, 2009

SKIN (2009)

Written by Helen Crawley, Jessie Keyt & Helena Kriel

Directed by Anthony Fabian

Where & When: The Landmark, West Los Angeles, CA. October 30, 2009, 5:00PM

I am still in disbelief after seeing "Skin". I know that this film is based on a true story yet it 's still truly an unbelievable story. Abraham (Sam Neill) and Sannie (Alice Krige) Laing give birth to a healthy baby girl they named Sandra in 1955. The problem is that they are both Caucasian and their daughter appears to be Black. The bigger problem is that Sandra was born in South Africa during apartheid.

Abraham believes with all his heart and soul that his wife has been faithful to him, so that means that their daughter is white and they raise her as a white child. Unfortunately, the rest of the country does not agree with the Laings. As far as the government is concerned, because of her appearance, Sandra (Ella Ramangwane) is labeled "colored".

The Laings are having to battle the schools and go to court over Sandra's racial identity. Abraham uses the media to help and get Sandra's story out all over the newspapers. The family have an older son, Leon and he looks Caucasian. Later, Mrs Laing becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby boy. He is not as dark as Sandra but he also doesn't look exactly white either.

To say that Sandra, now played by Sophie Okonedo, has some difficulty fitting in with her community is an understatement and things become even more difficult for her when she becomes a teenager. Sandra's parents make her go on dates with some local white boys and they treat her very badly and one boy almost rapes her.

Sandra finds herself attracted to Petrus, (Tony Kgoroge) a Black African who sells vegetables to her father's store. They begin an affair but her father finds out and forbids her to see him anymore or he will kill him. She runs off with Petrus but her father tracks her down and has her arrested. After her father decides to get her out of prison, Sandra informs him that she is pregnant. She refuses to give up Petrus or the baby so her father disowns her. Abraham goes as far as burning all of Sandra's pictures and things. He insists that the family act like she never existed.

Sandra starts a new life with Petrus but she has some difficulty relating to other Africans and how they live. Sandra has another child and Petrus starts his own business selling food which is successful. One day, The government claims the land and force the Africans off. They demolish every one's homes without even giving them an opportunity to collect their belongings. The people move to another area to rebuild and start over.

Sandra writes to her family for years but her letters come back unopened. Her writing causes friction between her and Petrus because he wants her to forget about her past. Petrus drinks more heavily and they fight more often and soon, Sandra has had enough. She takes her children one night and they run off to Johannesburg.

Apartheid ends in 1994 and reporters seek out Sandra to get her reaction. Sandra desperately wants to reconnect with her family and uses the media to help her try and track them down but can she find them? Will they want to see her? All of the performances are top notch with special mention to both of the actresses who played Sandra at different points of her life.

I have to say that after leaving "Skin", I felt such great sadness and anger because of how people's hatred and fears can destroy an innocent person's life. It's not an easy film to watch but it is an important film to see.