Book publications by Behrang Samsani on Sohrab Shahid Saless (Exil Verlag) © Exil Verlag

"The Long Holidays of Sohrab Shahid Saless. Approaches to a Life and Work" by Behrang Samsami


The cinematic oeuvre of Iranian screenwriter and director Sohrab Shahid Saless (1944-1998) bears his own unmistakable signature. His work usually focuses on outsiders: prematurely aged children; elderly people worn out by hardship; lonely "guest workers" and refugees; mentally ill murderers; sadistic procurers and exploited prostitutes; citizens persecuted during the Nazi era because of their origins; traumatised housewives trapped within themselves.

Saless' films shed light on living conditions mainly in Iran during the Shah era and in West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. He observes the characters and the conditions under which they operate with tenacious patience and a "cold gaze". Isolation and speechlessness, powerlessness and hopelessness, violence and (self-)hatred are ruthlessly exposed.

Born into a middle-class family in Tehran, Saless went to Vienna and Paris to study film in the 1960s. Back in Iran, he made documentaries for the Ministry of Culture until he produced two feature films, Yek ettefaghe sadeh (A Simple Event, 1973) and Tabiate bijan (Still Life, 1974), with which he became a driving force behind pre-revolutionary (auteur) cinema in Iran.
While he is appreciated as an artist in his native country, he is hardly known in his German exile homeland, where he lived intermittently between 1974 and 1995. Despite his 13 feature and documentary films produced in West Germany, Saless, who has received numerous awards, such as for In der Fremde (1975) and Grabbes letzter Sommer (1980), Utopia (1983) and Rosen für Afrika (1991), is still the great unknown of New German Cinema.
The trilogy The Long Holidays of Sohrab Shahid Saless is the first comprehensive account in German of the life and work of this artist, who - especially during the Cold War - repeatedly crossed linguistic, cultural and political boundaries. The approach takes the form of a comprehensive biography (Volume 1), analyses of his feature and documentary films made since 1973 (Volume 2), interviews with companions about Saless and selected personal testimonies, such as letters and film drafts (Volume 3). 


Behrang Samsami, born 1981 in Urmia/Iran, studied Modern German Literature and History at the Free University of Berlin. Doctorate on the perception and representation of the "Orient" in Hermann Hesse, Armin T. Wegner and Annemarie Schwarzenbach (Bielefeld 2010). Co-editor of two cultural studies anthologies on modernity and its overcoming (Bielefeld 2011 and 2015). Publications on migration and exile, transculturality and film.

The trilogy

Behrang Samsami
The long holidays of Sohrab Shahid Saless
Approaches to a life and work

3 volumes, 1500 pages, with numerous illustrations
Exil Verlag Edita Koch
ISBN 978-3-9801652-3-5


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