Race and Film: The Release of Skin

by Melissa Silverstein on August 20, 2009

in Actresses,Marketing,Racism

Sandra Laing and Sophie Okonedo

Sandra Laing and Sophie Okonedo

Interesting story out of England about how director Anthony Fabian is resorting to guerrilla type outreach tactics to raise awareness and get an audience to see his new film Skin starring Oscar nominated actress Sophie Okonedo. The film premiered at Toronto last year and won awards at last winter’s Pan African film festival in LA.  Here is my piece from last winter with a link to the trailer.

But it can’t get distribution here in the US and is in very limited distribution in London because as Fabian says, it is a story about black people. I would also venture to guess that because it is about a woman it makes it even harder.

Here’s what he was told:

“I was told by a respectable distributor in Britain that it would not distribute a film with a black cast,” he said. “That appears to be the attitude in the industry. These films are perceived not to make money. So [because we didn’t have a major distributor] we did not have any trailers in cinemas, or posters on the underground, or posters on the sides of buses,” he said.

Here’s a description:

It tells the story of Sandra Laing, played by Okonedo, who was born to white parents but was classified as “coloured” during the Apartheid era. The biopic depicts the struggle of her parents – who were white with black ancestry – to have her re-classified in order to provide her with a formal education in a “whites-only” school.

Director Anthony Fabian refuses to allow his film to go away and he has literally taken to the streets, as have other members of the film’s team and a few people from the public, to let people know that the film is playing.

Those of you in London should get out there and support this film.  If I was working on the film I would have them reach out to women’s film organizations like The Bird’s Eye Film Festival and Women in Film and TV in London and have them organize their members.  I have  a sneaking suspicion that if it fails to get any type of audience in London we will never see it here.

An apartheid story no one would screen (The Independent)

Update- In EW fall preview they have Skin opening in the US on October 30.

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