Things That You Kill

Unable to grieve, Ali coerces his enigmatic gardener to revenge his mother’s suspicious death.


After years of living abroad, 39-year-old Ali has returned to Iran. As he struggles between preserving his drying garden and saving his childless marriage, his mother dies. Unable to grieve, Ali grows even more bitter toward his father. He opens up to his new enigmatic gardener Reza about the suspicious circumstances of his mother’s death and his deteriorating relationship with his wife. Soon they form a solid bond. However, Reza does not share much about his past. Ali refuses to see a fertility doctor and instead focuses on questioning his mother’s death. Soon he learns that his father was beating his mother. Reza encourages him to take revenge, but Ali does not have the guts. Reza initiates the act: at dawn, they bury the father alive. Right after, the boundaries of reality and fantasy are blurred. Reza and Ali now must cover up for the murder and navigate the family dynamic as new stories scatter doubts about the father, the past, and possibly, the future.


"Things That You Kill" is a way to understand and problematize the idea of men in the hypermasculine society of my country, Iran. I use the doppelgänger (double of a living person) as a form of self-interrogation. Faced with impotence and unable to mourn the mother’s death, Ali’s ego splits, and Reza – his alter ego – emerges. Unlike Ali, who tries to deal with the complex world, Reza offers a simple solution through violence. With the murder of the father, Reza takes over to live the reality. But the truth soon shows its complexity. Doubts begin to grow to the point that it is impossible to live in a binary world of “good-and-evil”, where forgiveness has no place. The protagonist faces a process of mourning until he becomes a mature man who can historicise the reality and accept his parents (past) and paternity (future), in a timeless tradition that goes forward.

FeatureLab 2021
Discover more details here:
TFL Catalogue 2021

TFL Production Award (€ 40,000)

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