Film: “Skin” screens at the 2009 Pan African Film Festival

by H. Clent Bowers

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Written by H. Clent Bowers for THE ARTISTS FORUM MAGAZINE
Edited by
Courtesy of Skin Films Limited

5 out of 5 stars


LOS ANGELES (February 12, 2009) This years Pan African Film Festival Centerpiece Film Selection, Skin, was screened on February 11, 2009 in Los Angeles, CA.

Skin is the true story of Sandra Laing, an Afrikaner girl born colored by two white parents during 1955 Apartheid. This timely piece examines the courage and strength of a girl whose very nature forced a nation to analyze its perception of what constitutes the differences between us all. It brings into memory the not-too-distant past of the battle for dignity based not upon individual character, but upon the color of one’s skin.

I found the film’s screenplay (written by Helen Crawley, Jessie Keyt, and Helena Kriel, and brilliantly directed by Anthony Fabian) to be intelligent, fast paced, and brutally honest. The story progresses from Laing’s childhood through motherhood, and showcases her emotional journey from the bewilderment of innocence interrupted. Laing learns through great difficulty to survive and thrive in a world of systems built upon fear, greed, and prejudice, defining for herself the meaning of race, love, and self respect. She somehow knows throughout her life to follow an inner power that dictates to her what is right and what is wrong against all odds and those around her — even from those who love her most.

Skin was performed by a masterful cast starring Sophie Okenodo, Sam Neill, and Alice Krige, who never lost sight of the mission of this story. Every performance is crystal clear.

At the screening I attended, the audience was treated a surprise guest – Sandra Laing; the author of the novel Skin, and subject of this story. With a quiet demeanor, Laing was warm, humble, and powerful all at once. During the Q&A, many questions were asked regarding the film. My favorite came from an audience member who asked if [Laing] felt God had her born thus to bring about change in her country. She simply said with shy, firm, gracefulness, “Yes”. And that was all.

The evening continued with an auction of famous paints which raised several thousand dollars. Artist Frank Ramero spoke of his life as an emerging artist until the present day. Los Lobos brought the room to its dancing feet with a Latin beat until late into the evening.

For more information about Skin the movie, visit:,, film trailer

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