Amir - An Afghan Refugee Musician's Life in Peshavar, Pakistan

52 minutes / Colour / 1985
Directed by
John Baily

Country of production United Kingdom

The film investigates and portrays the life of Afghan refugees living in and around the city of Peshawar in northern Pakistan through the experiences of the musician Amir. The aspirations of Afghan refugees are expressed through their political songs dealing with the civil war in Afghanistan, with exile, with Afghan nationalism and with the Islamic revolution. In highly charged and tragic circumstances music can be used in very direct ways, both to promote solidarity and as an agent of catharsis. Amir brings that musical power to the viewer.

John Baily made this film during his training an an ethnographic film-maker as a Leverhulme Film Fellow at the National Film and Television School. He had come to know Amir earlier when carrying out ethnomusicological research in Herat between 1973 and 1977. The film was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Bilan du Film Ethnographique 1986 in Paris, and the Award for Excellence at the 1989 American Anthropological Association FIlm and Video Festival.

Cinematographer: Wayne Derrick

The film was re-digitized in 2011. This film is available for theatrical booking, please contact

Language and subtitles Dari (Afghan Persian) and Pashto with English Subtitles

Location(s) depicted Peshavar

Region South Asia

Country Pakistan

Keywords Music / Ethnomusicology Refugees / Displaced populations