NHNew Horizons Competition
Living SkinOriginal Title: Jald Hayy
Director: Fawzi Saleh
Egypt | Arabic
Director Fawzi Saleh’s debut feature, Living Skin
is an unflinching investigation into the dire living and working conditions of children employed in the manufacture of natural leather products in Cairo. The film is set in Magra el-‘Uyun, a neighborhood in the heart of the old city that claims an impressive aggregation of slaughterhouses, and where more than half of the 80,000-strong labor force - a large proportion of whom are children under 15 - is unregistered.
Poverty, homelessness and the threat of starvation push droves of children in Egypt to leave school and give up their ambitions and their dreams of living with even a modicum of security, let alone dignity or the rarefied privilege of shaping their own destinies. They are absorbed into the ravenously labor-hungry, ruthlessly unsupervised manufacturing sectors, living their childhood on the physically draining production line, handling dangerous chemicals like sodium sulfate, sulfuric acid, and hydrogen peroxide without appropriate protection.
is a poignant reference to these tannery workers, who “process' the skin of livestock after they have been “processed' in slaughterhouses – and whose own living skin is exposed to the same chemical regimen as the skin of dead livestock. Saleh’s foray into socially engaged documentary cinema is uninhibited. It commands our undivided attention.
– Rasha Salti