In “Pink”, we’re thrust into Soweto, South Africa on June 16, 1976 where Apartheid is in full swing. A 12-year old girl (Sophie Traub), decked out in a square-patterned dress, passes rows of coffins until she reaches the one she’s obviously looking for. The coffin she seeks contains her black nanny, who was killed, along with 500 other South Africans, by police during a peaceful protest in which they were trying to stop a law that would “force black students to be taught in African, the language of their oppressors”, to quote the explanation found at the end of the short.
The girl first calls for her nanny over and over and then settles down and begins a monologue that takes an incredibly incisive look into racism. It’s quite disturbing when the child talks of Apartheid being good for her nanny’s people so that their feelings won’t be hurt, like at the movies when her people talk back to the movie and it angers the girl’s people. She was hurt when her nanny refused to shampoo her hair and told her to do it herself and also when her nanny said that she was too old for the pink cakes that she made.
It’s amazing how Sophie Traub handles her role as the girl, who’s obviously influenced by her parents’ racist views as she makes references to the parental units a few times. When she shouts for her nanny at the beginning, it becomes nerve-wracking, but what follows with her words after that is even more nerve-wracking. With that in mind, attention must also be paid to the writing that makes the girl’s words so disturbing and that’s courtesy of Judith Thompson, whose monologue is excerpted here. Director Ed Gass-Donnelly’s work is also admirable here as his feeling at times is just to let the camera roll and move it ever so slightly as the girl speaks to her deceased nanny and come in with close-ups at just the right time. With these elements firmly in place, “Pink” will surely stick to the mind for a long time to come.
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