9 February 2009 | johno-21
Good film based on a true story
I saw this last month at the 2009 Palm springs International Film Festival. This is based on the true story set in South Africa during the Apartheid system of a Sandra Laing (Sophie Okonedo), who was born of dark skin to two Afrikaaners of white Eropean descent Abraham (Sam Neill) and Sannie (Alice Krige) Laing. Sandra is a genetic throwback because unknown to her parents, and like many Afrikaaners, there was mixed blood in their heritage between the Euopeans who settled in South Africa and the indigenous Africans. The story begins with Sophie getting expelled from an all-white school because of her differences in appearance. She is reclassified as dark. Her father (who is himself a bigot) fights to have her reclassified as white. She eventually is but against her family wishes she causes an unbreakable divide when she decides to marry a black man and have herself reclassified yet again as black. This is the feature film directorial debut of writer/director Anthony Fabian who was also present at my screening for an audience Q&A. The screenplay is from Helen Crawley but there was a book written recently by author Judith Stone called When She Was White that goes more into the complete story of Sophie's life. This film covers Sophie from around age 10 through her first marriage. Both Fabian's film and Stone's book had the cooperation of Sophie herself in their making. An excellent cast with three veterans in the principal roles with Neill, Krige, and the young but very busy Okonedo who was an Oscar nominee for Hotel Rwanda. This is a good film but it plays more like a made for TV movie and HBO, BET, Hallmark, A&E, AMC or Lifetime should all consider showing this. I would give this an 7.5 out of 10 and recommend it.