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Fremde Haut

German poster
Directed by Angelina Maccarone
Written by Angelina Maccarone
Judith Kaufmann
Starring Jasmin Tabatabai
Anneke Kim Sarnau
Navíd Akhavan
Cinematography Judith Kaufmann
Release date(s) Germany 24 September 2005 (Hamburg Film Festival)
United States 18 November 2005 (cinema release)
Running time 97 min
Country Germany, Austria
Language German, Persian

Fremde Haut (2005) is a German film released 20 October 2005. It was directed by Angelina Maccarone and stars Jasmin Tabatabai, Anneke Kim Sarnau, and Navíd Akhavan. Its English title is Unveiled.



Writers Maccarone and Judith Kaufmann conceived the idea for the film in 1998. In 2002, Maccarone sent a copy of the script to actress Tabatabai, who reviewed it. As an Iranian, Tabatabai worked with Maccarone and Kaufmann to rewrite the story to be more realistic. For example, the main character became "more subtle, not as outspoken."[1]

Plot summary

The translator Fariba Tabrizi (29, played by Jasmin Tabatabai) is living under the threat of the death penalty in her own country Iran after being revealed, by the vice squad, to be homosexual. With some support from a relative, Fariba is able to flee from her home country to Germany. When she is in the refugee detention centre at Frankfurt Airport her application for asylum is turned down. She lives hour by hour with the thought in mind that she may be deported. Her desperate prospects are dramatically improved by the suicide of a fellow-inmate also from Iran she assumes his identity and, as Siamak Mustafai, and using his temporary permit of sojourn, is re-located to the provinces of Swabia.

Fariba knows Germany only from literature and from her work as a translator which leave her in no way prepared for the likes of Sielmingen. The contrast to a metropolis such as Teheran could scarcely be greater. At first glance her survival seems to be assured. However, in the refugee home she is obliged to uphold her male disguise in cramped quarters and she is not permitted to leave the Regional District of Esslingen. A single word wrong, any attempt at contact is allied for her with the danger of her cover being blown.

The only way to escape from this predicament is by means of forged documents. To do this she is in urgent need of money. With a little help from her roommate Gasmut she comes into contact with L䣨le (30), the local godfather. He is instrumental in procuring an illegal, seasonal job for her in a sauerkraut processing factory right in the middle of a complex hick town coterie. Anne (26) is manoeuvred by her workmates into taking on a bet. She will get a bike for her son if she can manage to get a date with the refugee chap. Uwe (29) finds it totally out of order that Anne is so solicitous about Siamak's well-being. His worries are not entirely unfounded, since Anne derives some kind of pleasure from the strange foreigner.

Under any other circumstances Fariba would have been only too glad to respond to Anne's advances, however she is afraid on account of the whole business of the Siamak facade. With great stubbornness Anne drags Siamak along to the boozy leisure activities of her little hick town clique. In the process they become dangerously close and Anne begins to get wind of Fariba's true identity.

When Siamak's permit of sojourn runs out Fariba gets into arrears with the instalments for her documents. It becomes clear to her that she will never manage things on her own. She risks everything and takes Anne into her confidence. She wants at long last to be able to live as a woman again, to live out her profession, to enjoy big cities. To break away from the provinces would also be the fulfilment of a dream for Anne. She does not disappoint Fariba. Together they successfully go in for car theft. Fariba gets her new passport. The world is their oyster.

Just as Fariba is changing out of her Siamak disguise Uwe and the clique turn up in Anne's flat. Uwe demands an explanation. The row escalates. The noisy dispute leads to Fariba's downfall. During the routine check on account of disturbance of the falsified passport falls into the hands of the police. The system which she believed she had outwitted takes its relentless grip. Fariba knows: this is the end, her hopes are shattered. Anne has to watch on helplessly as Fariba is put under arrest.

The term "in orbit" is officially used by the UN to refer to asylum-seekers who find themselves orbiting around planet Earth because they can actually find legal domicile nowhere at all.


The original German title translates as "stranger's skin." Maccarone said,

On the one hand it means to wear another person’s personality, and on the other it has an erotic notion to it.[1]

The English title, Unveiled, was conceived by the U.S. distributor of the film.[1]



In 2006, Jasmin Tabatabai was nominated for the German Film Award as Best Actress.

  • Hessian Film Award 2005
  • Seattle Film Festival 2005: "Best Narrative Feature"
  • Image Nation Film Festival Montreal 2005: "Great Jury Prize"
  • Cyprus International Film Festival 2006: Best Actress in a Feature Film (Jasmin Tabatabai), Best Director (Angelina Maccarone), Best Film (Golden Aphrodite Award)

See also

External links



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