The first thing we see in The Man Who Sold His Skin is human hide: flayed, framed and transformed into an artwork. Gloved hands present the canvas of painted skin at auction in all its gruesome glory. It belongs to Sam Ali, a Syrian refugee and fugitive who agrees to have his back tattooed by a conceptual artist in a Faustian exchange for a European visa that turns him into a human artwork, exhibited on gallery plinths and gawped at by the world.
“That was actually a replica of my skin in the opening scene,” says Yahya Mahayni, the Syria-born actor who plays Sam. “They made a mould of my back with all its imperfections and then put it on pigskin