Skin Deep

Directed by Alex Schaad
Year: 2023
Country: Germany
Language: German with English Subtitles

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.

“Critic’s pick! A sensitive relationship drama in sci-fi trappings… it starts from a simple premise: What if you could go to a body-swapping retreat?”

"As fresh and conceptually far-reaching as a David Cronenberg film.

“Witty, provocative... A body-swap film with a difference.”

“Wields a science fiction conceit… to tear down walls of gender, sexuality, psychology, and identity itself.”

“An unexpected and moving portrait of love.”

Jonas Dassler
Mala Emde
Dimitrij Schaad
Thomas Wodianka
Maryam Zaree

Directed by Alex Schaad
Writers Alex Schaad and Dimitrij Schaad