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Only When You Bury Me In This Earth

Short film, 17 min.

Shaheen, an Afghan refugee, has lost contact with his brother who is travelling the perilous migration route to England. To cope, he makes and flies colourful kites. But when his kite crashes with a neighbour's drone he is forced to face the purpose of his migration and consider how to rebuild a shattered life.



Torn from his homeland and unable to reach his family, Afghan refugee Shaheen finds solace in making and flying paper kites. His only comfort, the kites line the walls of his flat, creating a cocoon of colour at once protecting him and holding him hostage – a reminder of all he has lost. When his kite collides with an electronic drone one afternoon, he takes the drone home to mend it and return it to its young owner, his neighbour. 

The ensuing events push Shaheen to his limit, forcing him to confront the agony of his forced migration and to wonder how he could ever build a new life from the shattered fragments of his past. 

This gentle, meditative film is imbued with the symbolism of the competing elements of wind and earth and is inspired by contemporary Iranian cinema. It is a beautiful reflection on the constant pain of new beginnings, the endings they bloom from and the sacrifice at the heart of migration.


Ahmadzia is an Afghan background kite maker currently based in south east london.


Nima Shahmalekpur is a London based Swedish-Iranian director and producer whose work has been screened at festivals internationally. Only When You Bury Me In This Earth is his debut as a fictional director, revealing his sensibility for symbolism, poetry and observational cinema.


 Directed & Written by

Nima Shahmalekpur

Produced by

Adriana Kytkova & Anna Merryfield


Ahmadzia Baktyari
Michael Alimi
Gregory Smith
Corina Shoy
Ghassem Sudani
Yewande Osinfolarin
Anna Alimi
Aderemi Alimi

Director of Photography: Nina Moog

Editor: Matilda Lind

Sound Design: Ines Adriana

Colourist:  Olesya Kireeva

Title and Sign Poster Design: Mahya Soltani

Made with the support of

Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers

Plan To ActionFund


5 min


The idea for our short film Only When You Bury Me in This Earth was developed out of our short documentary about Ahmadzia.

Synopsis: Ahmadzia has traveled a long way to come to Britain, but his story is about kites. Through them he connects with his past and his present. 

Gudiparan Bazi, or kite flying, is a long running tradition and pastime in Afghanistan.

Directed by: Nima Shahmalekpur & Anna Merryfield
Starring: Ahmadzia
Title design by: Olga loza
Original music composed by: Voka Gentle

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