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By Kaouther Ben Hania

To be able to travel to Europe and find the love of his life, Sam Ali, a Syrian refugee, accepts to have his back tattooed by one of the most sulfurous contemporary artist; becoming that way a precious work of art.

Drama | Germany / France / Belgium / Tunisia | 100 mins
HD | color | Dolby SRD
Languages: Arabic, English, French
Nationalities: Tunisia, France, Belgium, Sweden, Germany

World premiere: 02.-12.09.2020 – La Biennale, Venice

Sam Ali, a sensitive impulsive and straightforward young Syrian man, fled to Lebanon to escape the Syrian war. Without legal status, he is unable to get a Schengen visa to go to Paris where his beloved Abeer lives. He spends his time being a freeloader in art galleries in Beirut. It’s in one of these galleries that he meets Jeffrey Godefroi, the most sulphurous and best-known American artist in today’s contemporary art market.

The two men conclude a strange deal that will forever change Sam Ali’s life.

The artist turns Sam Ali into his artwork by tattooing a Schengen visa on his back. Sam Ali then passes from the status of a vulgar “undocumented refugee” to a work of art internationally solicited, able to move freely. But for him, only his devouring love passion matters. It is the only thing guiding his choices.

Haunted by his love for Abeer, he agrees to sell his back to the devil in order to see her. He, who knows nothing about contemporary art and who doesn’t care, finds himself propelled into this foreign environment that is completely at odds with who he is.

His tattooed skin is worth an astronomical sum in the art market, collectors are interested, the biding goes up and human rights activists are outraged. From one museum to another, between art gallery owners, journalists, curators, collectors, lawyers, men of the Syrian regime and opponents, Sam Ali remains genuine, honest and in love. But in spite of himself, his dignity is flouted and his fate is put to a severe test.

How can one get out of this trap, regain Abeer’s esteem and become a man again when you are relegated to the status of a commodity? This is the dilemma of Sam Ali, the man who sold his skin.

Actor / actress role
Yahya MAHAYNI Sam Ali
Dea LIANE Abeer
Koen De BOUW Jeffrey Godefroi
Monica BELUCCI Soraya Waldy
Saad LOSTAN Ziad
Darina AL JOUNDI Sam’s Mutter
Najoua ZOUHAIR Sam’s Schwester
Christian VADIM William
Husam CHADAT Adel Saadi
author & director Kaouther Ben Hania
producer Nadim Cheikhrouha
Habib Attia,
Thanassis Karathanos  & Martin Hampel,
Annabella Nezri,
Andreas Rocksen
productions Twenty Twenty Vision Filmproduktion
Tanit Films
Kwassa Films
Laika Film & Television
in co-production with Metafora Media Production
Film i Väst
VOO et Be Tv
Istiqlal Films
in association with Guillaume Rambourg
Lassaad & Rafik Kilani
with the support by Eurimages
Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg
World sales BAC Films
DOP Christopher Aoun
Editor Marie-Hélène Dozo
Set designer Sophie Abdelkefi
Sound designer Anders Billing Vive
Re-recording mixer Leny Andrieux
Music composer Amin Bouhafa
Line producer Jacques Reboud
Khaled W. Barsaoui
Marie-Sophie Volkenner
Music composer Amin Bouhafa

World premiere: 12.09.2020 | 77th Venice International Film Festival

Venice Film Festival | Orizzonti section – best actor (Yahya Mahayni) & Edipo Re Award
Arte Mare – Youth Prize of the Jury junger Pass Cultura & MGEN Audience Award
El Gouna FF – best arabic feature film
Stockholm IFF – best script

El Gouna Film Festival, Cairo/Egypt
CINÉMED – Festival International du Cinéma Méditerranéen de Montpellier (opening film), France
Arte Mare, Festival du film méditerranéen, Corsica/France
Festival International du Film Indépendant de Bordeaux, France
Stockholm International Film Festival, Sweden
Tokyo International Film Festival, Japan