Sohrab Shahid Saless: Addressee Unknown (Empfänger unbekannt)

Addressee Unknown (Empfänger unbekannt), Sohrab Shahid Saless, 80’, FRG, ZDF 23.6.1983, OV with English subtitles

At the onset of the economic crisis in the Federal Republic, a woman leaves her well-off home, husband and two children to live with an architect of Turkish origin. Through him she experiences discrimination and racism for the first time, which at the beginning of the Kohl era, with the end of the upswing and the recruitment stop for guest workers, sweep through the country like a tidal wave. Letters from the couple reveal that it isn’t the immigrant who triggers their marital crisis, but the circumstances in which they live. In 1982, the director writes: “It helps neither the immigrants nor the citizens of this country to beg for understanding and to conceal facts. Every fact is based on a reason. In my opinion, the reason for today’s immigrant problem is to be found in the history of the Federal Republic.”

Sohrab Shahid Saless (1944–1998) was an Iranian-German director, whose early work in Iran includes many documentaries and award-winning feature films. In exile in Germany, he made another 13 films that screened and won awards in Berlin, Cannes and at Documenta 6, amongst others. Saless made Time of Maturity (1976) and Addressee Unknown (1983), which also featured in the Berlinale Forum, as well as A Simple Event (1973). Order (1980) was screened again in the 2023 Berlinale Forum Special Programme Fiktionsbescheinigung.