Our Rating: ★★★★½
L Factor: Lesbian Film/Gender Bender
Short Take: A lesbian flees from Iran to Germany, where she passes as a man. A female coworker falls in love with her, but her refugee status is uncertain.
Alternate Titles: Fremde Haut
Year: 2005
Duration: 97 min
Language: Germany, Austria/German
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Angelina Maccarone
Writer: Judith Kaufmann, Angelina Maccarone
Starring: Jasmin Tabatabai, Navid Akhavan, Bernd Tauber, Majid Farahat, Georg Friedrich, Atischeh Hannah Braun, Mikail Dersim Sefer, Haranet Minlik, Homa Tehrani, Frank Frede, Barbara Falter, Ruth Wohlschlegel, Yevgeni Sitokhin, Dmitriy Dykhovichnyy, Dominik Glaubitz

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UnveiledFariba (Jasmin Tabatabai) is a woman on the run from persecution in Iran. Jailed and under threat of death after being found with another woman, she makes it to Germany, where she is held in a camp for those seeking political asylum.

When her application for residence is denied, Fariba desperately avoids return to Iran by capitalizing on the suicide of fellow detainee Siamak (Navíd Akhavan). She cuts her hair, binds her chest, paints on stubble and becomes a man who was granted a residence permit. As Siamak, she is sent to a small German town, where she lives in a men’s residence, bathing in the middle of the night and keeping to herself.

While working illegally in a sauerkraut factory, Siamak meets Anne (Anneke Kim Sarnau), and the two begin to fall in love. Siamak’s difference is what attracts Anne to him, while the other workers constantly harass him about being Iranian.

Fariba tries to get forged papers under her real name, and as Anne gets closer, Siamak/Fariba’s gender becomes immaterial. If only love could actually conquer all, including legal residence for asylum seekers.

Written and directed by Angelina Maccarone (Everything Will Be Fine), this film includes wonderful performances. Tabatabai can convey so much with her eyes, and her transformation is quite believable. You’ll also leave with the plight of refugees on your mind. (AB)