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“Skin”: The Apartheid Film Blocked By Ignorance

Skin is a biographical film about Sandra Laing — a South African woman born to white parents, but was classed as “coloured” during the apartheid era. It shows the struggle of her parents (who were white with black ancestry) to have her reclassified, so she could get a proper education in a whites-only school.

It stars Oscar-nominated Sophie Okenedo (Hotel Rwanda and The Secret Lives Of Bees), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park and The Tudors).  It’s an incredible and beautifully acted film.

Unfortunately very few people here have seen it since it was released, due to the absense of a major distributor. No-one would touch it because it has a majority black cast. The director Anthony Fabian (who’s white) says that he was told that distributors won’t support a film with a black cast, as they’re “perceived not to make money”. So there are no trailers, posters on buses, or posters on the subway.

When just 30 people came to the first night of its release, director Anthony took to the streets to promote it himself. He’s been giving out fliers outside cinemas, getting people out and about with sandwich boards at train stations, and trying to convince more cinemas to even show it in the first place.

It’s such a sad situation… We don’t get a lot of the black American films this end. Mostly we’ve got to buy them on bootleg DVD’s in order to see them. And the one’s we do get (like one a year), they’re well… dire. But at least American distributors will support black cinema, whether it’s a good film or not. Whereas here, an incredible film like Skin isn’t even given half a chance.

So wherever you are in the world reading this, check your cinema listings and see if Skin is playing somewhere near you. It’s well worth the price of the ticket. Here’s the trailer:


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