16 april 2021
The Man Who Sold His Skin
Deze film mocht ik aankondigen:
dat deed ik zo:
Introduction to The Man Who Sold His Skin for Movies that Matter Film Festival 2021
You are about to see a beautiful movie.
I say beautiful, because I want you to pay attention to the beauty of The Man Who Sold His Skin.
The beauty of the camera work. The beauty of the stage design. And the beauty of its protagonist, Yahya Mahayni and Dea Liane. Both blessed with the most beautiful eyes you will ever see.
The Man Who Sold His Skin is not just about the cruel absurdity of European immigration law and the commodification of people and art. It’s foremost a funny en again beautiful exploration into the power of love and beauty.
Don’t get me wrong. The story of Sam, the Syrian refuge who is desperate to travel to Europe in order to be reunited with the love of his life is also political. When Sam is stranded in Lebanon and decides to let a Belgian artist tatou him into a living work of art, that can be sold and exhibited, in order to get into Europe, it’s a clear and precise indictment of the inhuman way Europe claims to protects its borders. It is no wonder that a festival that prides itself on showing movies that matter, chose “The man who sold his skin” as its opening film.
But there is a danger in viewing this film through the lens of political engagement.
It is exactly that danger, of reducing art and people into props in order to make a political point that the movie addresses.
Since this is an introduction, I don’t want to ruin the movie for you by giving away too much of its plot lines.
What I can do is tell you that the movie reminded of a novel by Milan Kundera.
After seeing The man who sold his skin, I went back to “The Unbearable Lightness of being”, and reread it.
In the Unbearable Lightness of being. Milan Kundera tells among other things, the story of lovers Tomáš and Tereza, a Czech couple that escapes to Zurich (after) when Russian troops abruptly end(ed) the so-called Prague Spring of 1968. In Zurich Tereza, who is a photographer, shows the pictures she made of Czech girls taunting Russian soldiers. The exposition is a big success. But when a few years later the Prague spring is no longer a big political topic, the interest in her pictures declines.
A similar thing happens to Tomáš mistress Sabina. Also, a refugee living in Zurich. where she works as a painter. One day Sabina discovers in an art catalogue, a picture of herself with barbed wire drawn over it. Exemplifying how she the artist, had fought against repression.
Furious and insulted she exclaims: “My enemy is not communism its Kitsch” There are, I assure you many more similarities between the novel and the film that will start in a moment. Both the novel and the film raise the uncomfortable question whether a refugee can ever be free in a country where she or he is defined as a refugee.
But to me, the most important resemblance is that both Kundera and director Kaouther Ben Hania seem to understand that comedy is the only way to reconcile the caricature of what we are told we are, with the murky truth of who we really are.
Just as Kundera has always fought to be read as a novelist and not as a refugee. The film you are about to see deserves to be seen as a work of art.
Because, that’s what this movie is really about.
Sam refuses to be defined as a refugee, a victim or a work of art: he is a lover. A human being in pursuit of happiness and beauty.
You are about to see ‘a movie that matters’, not just because of its politics but because of its message that no matter what the political circumstances are, humanity always perseveres through love, humor and beauty.
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