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The Man Who Sold His Skin

(Syria, English subtitles): This film, which was Syria’s entry to the Oscars and made the shortlist, centers on Sam Ali, a refugee who agrees to have his back tattooed as a form of art in exchange for money, freedom, and a visa to Europe, where his girlfriend is betrothed to a member of the embassy. While uneven in its execution, the film works best as a commentary (and perhaps even satire) on the question of art and its commodification (as well as the commodification of Sam). Sam exchanges his back for his freedom, but he comes to realize that he is trapped in a different kind of hell. It is one of those films that I enjoy, one that stimulates thinking and challenges convention. The cinematography is beautifully done and is itself, in many places, a work of art. I also really liked the score. Thumbs up for a thought-provoking film that is well-acted and kept me engaged. I liked this one as well as some of the others on the Best International Feature list. (2020; 4 Stars)

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