A Band of Dreamers and a Juge | خیالباف و قاضی

A creative doucmentary by Hesam Eslami
4K | 80′ | Iran-France
World Premiere: IDFA 2023 (Luminous Section)
Produced by Hesam Eslami (Aras Films) and Etienne De Ricaud (Caracters Production)
DOP: Hamed Hosseini
Editor: Afsaneh Salari
Sound design and mix: Mehrshad Malakouti
Image Post production: Hamidreza Fatourechian, Borna Jamshidi

In a mountainous region of northern Iran, a group of men in their forties are looking for a solution to their financial woes. Business is bad, the economy is in the doldrums, and they would leave if they could—but that would also cost money. The only thing they’ve got left is to seek treasures. This isn’t an entirely unrealistic idea in Iran, where thousands of years of history and gold coins lie waiting to be discovered in ancient tombs, catacombs and caves, even though treasure hunting is strictly prohibited.

Filmmaker Hesam Eslami joins this group of friends, and follows them in their daily lives as they seek happiness. They are constantly discussing their treasure hunting plans, pondering the ins and outs of dowsing rods, metal detectors and mini cameras to find that coveted pot of gold.

Meanwhile, the police are on the lookout for illegal excavations, and the friends are caught red-handed. Eslami tries to explain to the judge that the excavation is only an innocent means to make his film a success. “Diggers are dreamers,” he states. But then it turns out that the men have not been entirely honest with him. Will their dreams remain unfulfilled?

Watch the trailer: