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February 21, 2011

Well Beyond 'Skin' Deep

New on DVD, 2008's 'Skin' is a stirring look at South Africa's apartheid era


No wonder Roger Ebert called it "one of the best films of the year." I just watched Skin, a 2008 film based on the true story of Sandra Laing, a dark-skinned girl born to white Afrikaner parents in 1955 South Africa. The film, which released to DVD a few weeks ago, follows Sandra's remarkable journey -- expelled from school and shunned by white society despite her father's efforts to have her officially classified as "white," and the sociological implications that her pigmentation wrought.

Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) is brilliant in the lead role as Sandra, torn between her feelings for her family and the black man with whom she falls in love. Sandra's father (played by Sam Neill) is an old-school racist who sees blacks as a lower class, but her mother (Alice Krige) is a bit more tolerant. But Sandra is forced into a position where she must choose between family and the man she loves, resulting in a difficult journey through hardship, racial intolerance, familial rejection, and a society in which she can never quite find her place.

It's ultimately a story of perseverance, redemption, and forgiveness, and well worth putting in your rental queue. Here's the trailer: