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Anthony Fabian’s Skin tells the true story of Sandra Laing, a girl born in apartheid-era South Africa to white Afrikaner parents. Sandra looked black, a genetic anomaly that wouldn’t raise many eyebrows today but caused the family interminable legal battles back in the ’60s and ’70s. Initially “classified” as white, Sandra (Ella Ramangwane as a girl, Sophie Okonedo as an adult) was kept out of sight until age 10, when her parents (Alice Krige and Sam Neill) sent her to private school. There she sat through classes that hammered home the differences between whites and blacks. Sandra was soon expelled and classified as “colored,” then reclassified as white; later, when she fell in love with a black man (Tony Kgoroge) and had his children, she fought to be considered “colored” again. As if Sandra’s identity crisis weren’t enough, Dad was also a racist and disowned his daughter when he discovered her relationship. Sandra’s story is sufficiently gripping to offset the film’s missteps: Hotel Rwanda’s Okonedo does little more than gape and look stricken, and Neill’s character is pretty one-dimensional, wavering between Afrikaan and Australian accents to boot. But Sandra’s undeserved pain—both emotional and physical—will break your heart, particularly when her eventually estranged husband declares: “Her skin is a curse.”
Friday at 6:30 p.m. Also at 8:45 p.m. on Mon. April 20. Both showings at Regal Gallery Place.