When I Close My Eyes

Master oil painter Samir Khurshid lives and works in Portland, Oregon, creating densely layered images that capture the dichotomies prevalent in his own immigrant experiences.

Funding Initiative
Short-Form Open Call

Samuel Eisen-Meyers


Michael Hull

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The Film

Master oil painter Samir Khurshid lives and works in Portland, Oregon. His work—densely layered, deeply philosophical imagery—is heavily influenced by his experiences as an Iraqi refugee, incorporating modern religion, ancient mythology, political machinations, and the weight of our daily emotional lives. His paintings can look busy but pleasant at first glance, but that first glance belies a more complex narrative. Beauty often masks danger; what looks like an opportunity can be a trap. Unique interpretations of a recurring theme: being a refugee in the United States is challenging.

When I Close My Eyes is a short art film that captures the dichotomy in Samir Khurshid’s work. The action throughout the film is deceptively simple—Samir goes about his daily routine speaking with family in Iraq, working on his paintings, going to a boxing class, and ending his day on the rooftop of his apartment building watching the sunset and dancing alone. However, the narration, written and performed by Samir in his native Turkish language, describes the horrific events that have shaped his life and the cross-cultural chaos of living as a refugee in the United States. He was threatened, and then attacked. Terrorists shot his brother in a case of mistaken identity. His country was in ruins. And then he was brought to America, where no one has known anything about his history.