Known as one of the trailblazers of Iranian New Wave cinema, Sohrab Shahid Saless was interested in narrative storytelling and playwriting from a young age. In 1963 he moved from Tehran to Vienna, where he studied film and acting until moving again to Paris in 1967 to study film at the Independent Conservatory of French Cinema.
After returning to Iran, Shahid Saless took a job as a documentary filmmaker with Iran’s Ministry of Culture, where he produced ethnographic films about the folkloric culture of different ethnic groups in rural Iran. It was also during this period that Shahid Saless made a name for himself as one of the founders of Iranian New Wave cinema with his features Yek Ettefāq-e Sādeh (A Simple Event), which won the Grand Prize at the Tehran Film Festival, and Tabi’at-e Bijān (Still Life).
But when Shahid Saless eventually shifted his focus in his documentary films to the deplorable conditions faced by the Iranian working class, he fell out of favor with the government and was forced to flee Iran for Germany in 1974. Although he struggled as an exile in Germany without any permanent immigration status, he continued producing films for German cinema and television until the stress from having to constantly raise funds to finance his projects became too great, and he decided to move to the US. He spent only two years in the US before passing away in Chicago in 1998.