Skin Deep

Queer Lion
Venice Film Festival
A witty, provocative exploration of identity, gender fluidity, sexuality and the pursuit of happiness.


Skin Deep

Seeking a retreat where they can salvage their struggling relationship, young couple Leyla (Mala Emde) and Tristan (Jonas Dassler) travel to a remote island at the invitation of Leyla’s childhood friend Stella, where it soon becomes clear that what the island offers is more mysterious than a simple vacation. Leyla and Tristan join another couple in a ritual to exchange bodies and see the world through the eyes of someone else – a chance to find themselves or, for some of them, a chance at escape. Free from the constraints of her former body, Leyla quickly finds she has never been happier, with a fresh outlook on life and a new sense of release and fulfillment. But when she refuses to return to her old self, the situation threatens to spiral out of control. Subverting genre and gender as it toggles from body swap thriller to intimate relationship drama, Skin Deep tells a story that transcends bodies, embracing the endless fluid possibilities in the question of what it means to truly love someone. Winner of the Queer Lion at the Venice Film Festival and directed by Student Academy Award® winner Alex Schaad.

Winner: Queer Lion – Venice Film Festival

“A body-swap film with a difference. A witty, provocative exploration of identity, gender fluidity, sexuality and the pursuit of happiness. An unexpectedly emotional journey from a bright new talent with an assured touch.” – Screen International

“By wielding a science fiction conceit… [and] tearing down walls of gender, sexuality, psychology, and identity itself… Schaad really ensures that we’re seeing beyond the surface.” – The Film Stage

“An unexpected and moving portrait of love as rooted in acceptance.” – Cineuropa
Not Rated
Drama, LGBTQ+
Alex Schaad
Alex Schaad
Mala Emde, Jonas Dassler, Dimitrij Schaad, Maryam Zaree, Thomas Wodianka, Edgar Selge
Winner, Queer Lion, Venice Film Festival

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