But is it art?
After a video of his declaration of love is misinterpreted as an act of rebellion against the Syrian government, Sam Ali (Yahya Mahayni) needs to get out of the country. With the aid of his sister he flees to Lebanon to start his new life. After a year of being a refugee and seeing the woman he loves marry someone else, Sam is given an opportunity to become part of something bigger.
While at a gallery opening he is scouted by Soraya Waldy (Monica Bellucci) to become a living piece of art by infamously controversial artist Jeffry Godefroi (Koen De Bouw) who wants to tattoo a copy of his visa on his back. After learning that the first stop of the tour will be Brussels, where Abeer (Dea Liane), his love is, he signs up. But after some unwanted attention from the people both in and out of the art world, Sam learns that being a part of something bigger than himself comes with a cost.
The Man Who Sold His Skin is Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania‘s second feature film and is loosely based on a similar situation with artist Wim Delvoye (who appears in a cameo as an insurance man) and Tim Steiner who had a large back piece tattooed on his body and he would sit in galleries as a living art installation. It is a satirical look at how human life is disregarded as material and how everything has a price tag.
Sam is a political refugee who’s only crime is falling for someone below his status. Even after he becomes famous for barely doing anything other than sitting up straight and staying hydrated. He transforms into a breathing canvas who wants to return to his old life and start the next chapter with the woman he went to hell and back to get and how the rich will always find new and creative ways to exploit the poor for their personal gain.
AF French Film Festival 2021 Review – ‘The Man Who Sold His Skin’
Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist – also screening at Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021), March 7, 2021. Rating: MA15+. Running time: 104 min.
PRODUCTION: Cinétéléfilms and Tanit Films present a Samuel Goldwyn Films release of a Bac Films production. Producers: Martin Hampel, Thanassis Karathanos, Annabella Nezri, Andreas Rocksén. Executive producers: Habib Attia, Nadim Cheikhrouha.
CREW: Director/screenplay: Kaouther Ben Hania. Cinematography: Christopher Aoun. Music: Amin Bouhafa.
CAST: Yahya Mahayni, Dea Liane, Koen De Bouw, Monica Bellucci, Jan Dahdoh, Marc de Panda, Husam Chadat.