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This Tunisian Film Just Won Two Awards at the Venice Film Festival

The Man Who Sold His Skin

A still from ‘The Man Who Sold His Skin’. Photo: Courtesy of the Venice Film Festival

Tunisian film, The Man Who Sold His Skin has come home with two awards from Venice International Film Festival.

The film, which was written and directed by Tunisian filmmaker, and screenwriter, Kaouther Ben Hania received the Edipo Re Award, one of the festival’s collateral prizes, while the film’s lead, Syrian actor Yahya Mahayni scored the Orizzonti Award for Best Actor after his exceptional performance.

The film features Mahyani, who plays a young and impulsive Syrian, Sami Ali, who left his country for Lebanon to escape the war, where he meets one of the world’s most sulfurous contemporary artists. To be able to travel to Europe and live with the love of his life, Ali accepts to have his back tattooed by the artist, played by Flemish actor Koen De Bouw. However, after turning his body into a prestigious piece of art, Ali comes to realize that his decision may have compromised his freedom.

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Director Kaouther Ben Hania took inspiration from the real-life story of Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, who produced the piece Tim, for which he tattooed the back of Tim Steiner, a former tattoo parlor owner from Zurich. Steiner agreed that after his death, the piece could be taken from his back and sold as a unique art piece. Ben Hania saw Delvoye’s human artwork in Paris’ Louvre museum which galvanizes her idea for the masterpiece film. “The original work of art was just a starting point,” she told The National. “Many movies start with an image, then you have to have a story with an emotional journey.”

The movie made its premiere at the Venice International Film Awards last week. The world’s oldest film festival is one of the first major events to physically take place since the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

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