“The Man Who Sold His Back” … A young Syrian man puts Tunisian cinema on the Oscars carpet


An atypical story that deals with the refugee issue in a contemporary way

Tunisian director Kawthar Ben Haniyeh was able to take a giant step towards winning one of the Oscars after her film “The Man Who Sold His Back” was nominated for the Best International Film Award in the most important international film festivals in the United States.

In the presence of an important number of international and local media, the director showed her feature film in the City of Culture in the Tunisian capital, while the film will be presented in Tunisian cinemas today, Wednesday, in its first commercial show at the international level.

Asylum case

The film – in which the world artist Monica Bellucci participates – tells the story of the Syrian refugee “Sam”, who was driven by the hell of war in his country to flee to Lebanon to meet the girl of his dreams, but his circumstances prevented his marriage to her, while she marries “Haya” and travels to Belgium.

Then Sam decides to make a crazy deal with a plastic artist to sell his back and turn it into a portable painting that will serve as a visa that will send him back to his sweetheart in Europe.

In one of the film’s most symbolic scenes, the plastic artist addresses the Syrian refugee, saying, “We will turn this person who is not entitled to travel into a commodity, because in the world in which we live the commodity is more free than the human being.”

Director Kawthar Bin Haniyeh and Syrian actor Yahya Mahaini during the screening of the film (Al-Jazeera)

In contrast to many films that dealt with issues of immigration and asylum, the Tunisian director Kawthar Ben Haneya moved away from the scenes of war, refugee camps and death boats, to present – as she says to Al-Jazeera Net – a global issue related to the violation of human dignity and its transformation into a commodity bought and sold by storming the world of contemporary plastic art.

She added, “I did not want the film’s story to be a stereotypical story that deals with the issue of asylum in a classic way. Rather, I wanted it by storming the gates of contemporary art full of pragmatism and great wealth, through which I reveal various contradictions.”

Ben Hania indicates that the film is inspired by a painting that she saw in an exhibition of contemporary art at the famous Louvre Museum in Paris by the Belgian artist, Wim Delphoy, when I was surprised to see a young man who made his back a part From the painter’s artwork.

Trailer for the movie “The Man Who Sold His Back” (Al Jazeera)

Attend Monica Bellucci

Among the points that contributed to the marketing of the film on a global scale, with the testimony of critics, is the presence of the international actress, Monica Bellucci. With its quality and artistic value.

Kawthar Ben Haniyeh – the daughter of the Sidi Bouzid Governorate in central Tunisia – did not depart from the circle of coronations that accompanied her in many of her films, such as “Ali Kuf Afrit”, “Zainab hates snow” and “Watermelon El Sheikh”, while today she aspires to achieve a historic achievement. For Tunisian cinema.

In turn, the young Syrian actor, Yahya Mahaini, was able to attract attention after his brilliance in the title role and embody the role of the Syrian refugee who sold his back, confirming in his interview with Al-Jazeera Net that this role is a paradigm shift in his cinematic career.

The young actor indicates that he has dual Syrian and Canadian nationalities, and that he did not actually live the refugee story like the hero of the film, but he sometimes feels it during his move between European countries, as many think that he is a Syrian refugee simply by knowing his country of origin.

It is noteworthy that the Oscars ceremony – which is organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the United States – will be held on April 25th. a company Netflix is ​​responsible for most of the production companies producing nominated films, taking advantage of the Corona crisis.

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