A Dragon Arrives! (2016) - full transcript

An orange Chevrolet Impala drives across a cemetery towards an abandoned shipwreck in the middle of a desert landscape. It is the 22nd of January, 1965. The day before, the Iranian prime minister was shot dead in front of the parliament building.

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Should I start?

How long have we been here?

I've been here since last night.

I'd have shaved in the morning.

So five or six days at least.

Maybe even a week.

I've been here for a week?

Tell me the story.

Jahangiri, I'm talking to you.

I've been unconscious for a week?

What did you drug us with?

Start at the beginning.

I'll tell you the rest,

from the moment you passed out.

You know the beginning.

It started with you.

I know the whole story.

But it has to be recorded.

On Sunday morning,

January 23, 1965,


Saeed Jahangiri ordered me to come here

to the island of Qeshm.

- Are we still on Qeshm?
- Yes.

An exiled prisoner had hanged himself.

Mustafa Samei.

I knew it was common

for exiles to commit suicide.

But Mustafa Samei was different.

He only had two months left.

Only 62 days to freedom.

One day before, the Prime Minister

was killed in front of the parliament.

The case seemed suspicious.

Major Jahangiri ordered me

to come to Qeshm,

to examine the body

and to bury it.

What ensued did not accord

with those orders.

- Mr. Charaki?
- Hello Major.

- I'm Babak Hafizi.
- Pleased to meet you.

You too.

I owned a Chevrolet Impala

in Tehran when I was young, a beige one.

But yours looks better.

Thanks. Get in.

I've brought a worker

to help with the burial.

- Straight ahead?
- Straight ahead.

He asked to be moved from the village.

That was a while ago, almost three years.

They re-examined his file in Tehran

and did as he requested.

On Saturdays he'd come to the station,

sign in and return to the cemetery.

On foot.

It's 3.5 hours by foot.

You won't believe me,

but he was mad.

- Did he have visitors?
- Never.

No one at all.

He was alone.

Did anyone contact him from Tehran?

His mother.

She sent him books

and journals.

One time she sent a plastic bag

with small black seeds.

It was suspicious.

I threw them out the window.

A bunch of basil sprouted.

What about the village?

Did he socialize?

- With whom?
- The grocer, for instance.

Or anyone.

No one mixes with the exiles here.

It's asking for trouble.

So all these years

he spoke to no one?

He'd talk to me. Gibberish.

I'm telling you,

he wanted to live on the cemetery.

He was insane.

He's better off dead.


Get him down.

Place him on this table.

Cut the rope.

Here we go...

Let us begin.

- Burial...
- We can't bury him here.

The village cemetery isn't far from here.

What difference does it make?

There's a thousand stories involved.

No one buries their dead here now.

I'll take care of the body myself.

I won't trouble you.

I have to bury him

and file my report.

I've travelled far.

Just bury him.

It'll be dark soon. It's a sin

to bury the dead after sunset.

This man was a Marxist-Leninist.

Just bury him.

I knew at once

that the suicide was a cover up.

He'd been murdered.

They'd strangled him with a rope,

and then hanged him.

Should I elaborate?


The bruise on his neck was horizontal.

It ran from below the throat

to the back of the neck.

If someone's hanged,

bruising isn't horizontal.

It runs from the larynx

up to the ears.

I know that, you know that...

Lieutenant Charaki

would have known it, too.

Only, why didn't he report it?

He said he'd touched nothing.

But you could tell that

without investigating.

There was nonsense

written all over the walls,

lines from a story,

daily events,

he'd used the walls as a diary.

Let's go.

I said a prayer for him.

I'll stay the night

and take the first boat.

- You can't stay here.
- Why not?

- It's a cemetery.
- It's very pleasant.

You go ahead. It'll be dark.

- Aren't you afraid all alone?
- No.

- Write and file your report.
- Okay.

Mr. Charaki, what is this?

The photo, the geomancy and astrolabe?

The cemetery keeper used to live here.

It all belongs to him,

and the photo is of his daughter.

He killed his daughter.

It's said her ghost haunts the place.

A load of nonsense...

That's what I meant by a thousand stories.




don't stay here.

Don't stay.

You'll be swallowed by the earth.

When a corpse goes into the ground,

the earth opens its mouth.

There'll be an earthquake.

This place is haunted.

Ghosts have no business with me.

Leave this place.

What did the worker say?

"... the earth opens its mouth

and there's a quake."

You stayed

to see the earth open its mouth.

I stayed to read

what he'd written on the walls.

There was a book on the table:


He'd copied parts of it on the walls.

It was getting dark.

I stayed to read the book.

Last Wednesday at 11 o'clock...

a ghost entered Mr. Mavedat's body.

It's easy to imagine

Mr. Mavedat's shock at this event,

given the fact

that his face always

looks happy and surprised.

On that pleasant, moonlit evening,

Mr. Mavedat and three of his friends

had spread out a feast in the garden.

It was full moon,

a poetic light was cast over everything,

which threw mysterious shadows

and glistening sparkles on the river,

as if eternity were being created.


A film by Mani Haghighi

Based on a true story

A pipe burst in my grandmother's house.

The story begins before that,

but to me it began when the pipe burst.

Winter 2006.

A pipe had burst

right over the room

where Father's movies were stored.

I was worried about the films.

I called Mani, asked him to move them.

I hurried to my grandmother's.

My brother helped me get the films out.

Ebrahim Golestan's films

were all in that room,

his industrial films, documentaries,

unfinished films,

and all the copies

of "The Brick and The Mirror".

I found a box there

at the back of a closet.

A metal box about this big.

It was locked and there was no key.

Mani asked for the key.

I'd never seen the box before.

I told him to break the lock

to see what was inside.

There were a couple of tapes,

and some notebooks with German writing,

a piece of bone that we later

found out was a jackal's jawbone.

Some brass plates

with prayers etched on them.

A weekly literary journal

with Bahram Sadeghi's "Paradise".

And a few pictures

of three young men with a baby.

Why were these things in our house?

I recognized one of the men.

It was Keyvan Haddad with a beard.

He was the assistant sound engineer

on "The Brick and The Mirror".

He had suddenly disappeared.

The secret police had

allegedly arrested him.

I knew someone at the State Archives.

All we had was a picture and a name.

They sent us to the Prison Archives

of the Anti-terror Committee,

where we finally found some clues.

We found the most important clue

at the Anti-terror Prison Archives.

The arrest files of the three men

on the island of Qeshm in 1964,

the year Keyvan Haddad disappeared.

There we found the interrogation tapes

of the three men on the island.

It was clear

that this film had to be made.

The story

of my grandfather's sound engineer,

who'd disappeared while shooting

"The Brick and The Mirror".

This is all okay.

Back up to "This child

is a piece of someone's heart."

She got in the cab. I didn't see the baby.

She paid and got out.

Then I heard the baby crying.

I got out and called after her,

but she was gone.


Mr. Moghaddam?

Where did he go again?

He'll be right back. Here he is.

Sorry, I'm back again.

Where you say, "This child

is a piece of someone's heart."

The line sounded good.

- Not on my recording.
- Play it back.

It's very interesting.

The poor woman...

The poor woman...

How awful she must feel right now.

This child is a piece of her heart.

- Long time no see!
- I'm here now.

We're honored by your presence!

Does this film never end?

It just started.

You're even wearing earrings!

Is that my necklace? Stop it!

That friend of yours...

Are you here to work?

- The geologist.
- He's a civil engineer.

Our honeymoon...

Hafizi is looking for him.

- Who? Behnam?
- Yes.

He's straight.

He's only been back two weeks.

Don't worry.

Don't get him involved.

We just have a few questions.

Hafizi was away on business.

There was an earthquake.

It's mysterious...

The Intelligence Agency

has specific questions?

The Agency has nothing to do with it.

Hafizi hasn't reported anything yet.

He just has a few questions

about the quake.

Somewhere safe. Your father's print shop.

Please. Do it for my sake.

For me.

This is something

that's tormented me for years.

If I hadn't insisted

that he did it for my sake,

maybe none of it would've happened.

And everyone would now

be somewhere else.

Jahangiri was an interesting case.

There aren't many like him.

At least none that I know of.

To be able to infiltrate

the Secret Police Agency so deeply

and to put together

his own group of people.

Especially with his biography,

having been born in northern Iran...

All this made him a fascinating figure.

And that name!


I still don't know what it means.

Back then we thought

it was an abbreviation.

Hozvaresh are Aramaic words

in Pahlavi script

which appear in Middle Persian texts.

If you read them in Farsi,

they make no sense.

That is, unless you memorize them.

There are some 1000 Hozvaresh

in Middle Persian texts.

"Ruler", for instance, is "Malka",

"Man" is "Gabra",

"Night" is "Laylay".

It was a system of writing

that not everyone could learn.

The interesting thing is,

these members of Hozvaresh

would pass on secret information

from within,

to all opposition groups, regardless:

To the Islamic groups, the Communists,

the Nationalists, everyone.

I'm not saying a thing.

Hafizi told it to Shahrzad,

and she believed him.

- How is Shahrzad?
- She's vigilant.

A secret agent told Shahrzad...

- Hafizi's not an agent.
- No?

I already told you.

Then an infiltrator told Shahrzad that...

Mr. Haddad?

- Babak, come on up.
- Hello.

- Hello.
- How are you, Keyvan?

Are you well?

- My friend Behnam Shokouhi.
- Hello.

I'm sorry we have to meet here.

The matter is a bit delicate.

He'll have told you that already.

Yes, but my question is...

I know. You're right.

It's hard to believe.

This is not about belief.

My question relates to you yourself.

- Behnam is not a problem.
- No...

Not in the least.

I am very grateful.

I don't have a problem, either.

I just have a question for you.

What? Am I being too frank?

- Let him speak first.
- Okay.

He explained everything.

It was hard to believe at first.

I looked him in the eye

while he told the story.

I said to myself he wasn't lying.

He may be making a mistake,

but he's not lying.

Why didn't you file a report?

Why come to me?

Otherwise I won't learn what happened.

Such are the risks and dangers.

I don't want you

to do anything or fix anything.

I just want a specialist to see

the things I witnessed there.

Two specialists.

You can't go without me.

He loved to play with sounds.

He'd say, "Listen to the rain

if you're feeling hot.

It'll cool you."

He had a collection of silences

from all around the world.

He said: "Put the tape in

and let it roll,

I'll tell you where the sound is from."

I played the tape.

You couldn't hear a thing.

Keyvan listened and told me

this was Ali Sadr cave,

or the tomb of some mystic writer,

or the Chattanooga Restaurant

at 2 in the morning.

That's how I fell in love with him.

We hadn't been together long

when I had a bad car accident.

I was bedridden for a while.

He'd come and record

my breathing as I slept,

so as to listen to it back at home.

Wouldn't you fall in love with him?

- What are you doing?
- Research.

The first thing I saw

was the writing on the walls.

I couldn't believe it.

His handwriting was just like mine.

Not just similar. Exactly the same.

As if, for three years,

I'd been locked up on this ship.

As if they were my own memoirs

on the walls.

As if I'd been asleep for three years

and could now read all my dreams here

and remember who I really was.

We'd only just arrived,

but it was as if I were coming home.

What's wrong?

I think some things have been moved about.

Like what?

I was reading a book.

There was an earthquake.

You're kidding.

But there was only cracking

at the cemetery.

What do you mean?

There was a 5 Richter earthquake,

but only at the cemetery.

The earth a few meters away

is undisturbed.

- Is that possible?
- No.

But it happened.

What exactly did the worker say to you?

When a body is buried,

the earth opens its mouth and quakes.

So we need a body now.

He said: "We need a body"

as if we were talking about a screwdriver.

Simple as that.

A corpse, in that hell.

As I already said,

there was only cracking at the cemetery.

This is impossible in an earthquake.

Earthquakes are huge.

If there's an earthquake here,

the ground is shaken over kilometers

and you can see its traces.

But this one was limited to the cemetery.

I know it sounds strange,

but to figure out what was going on

we needed a body

that we could bury at that cemetery.

He walked around the graves,

tasting the earth in different places.

When there's a crack in the earth,

it tastes different

due to gas coming from the ground.


he saw that huge ship

and didn't ask why it was there.

We later found out

he knew the story of the ship.

Or pretended to know it.

He's a master of deception.

You never know if he's lying or not.

Do you know the story?

What story?

Of the ship and

William Baffin's 231 victims.

- Do you know it?
- Yes.

Britain's William Baffin

discovered Greenland.

In 1622 the East India Company hires him

to come to Iran

and sign a silk trade agreement.

William Baffin convinces Shah Abbas

to expel the Portuguese

from the Strait of Hormuz.

Shah Abbas is to attack from land,

and the British forces from the sea.

They send William Baffin to Qeshm

to scout out the Portuguese forces.

They say that with

only five British soldiers,

William Baffin captured a Portuguese ship

with 231 sailors on board.

He forces them

to pull their ship onto dry land,

all the way over to this cemetery.

Then he decapitates all 231,

and buries them right behind you.

The next day the Portuguese attack

and kill William Baffin.

One of these graves must be his.

To find a corpse

you need to know people.

I knew Charaki.

I went out in search of him.

They said he'd gone

to see an ophthalmologist.

I asked where that was.

They gave me an address,

an hour and a half outside the village.

The guy looked like anything but a doctor.

How many people live in the village?

I haven't counted.

Are any of them close to death?

Close to death.

Are any of them about to die?

An old man? A sick child?

Answer me, Charaki.

It'll happen sooner or later.


What was that guy doing to you?

Almas? He's an ophthalmologist.

He hunts sharks, does circumcisions,

and is an ophthalmologist, too.

He was treating my eyes.

He takes shark oil in his mouth

and applies it to my eyes with his tongue.

It's soothing. You should try it.

No, thanks.

I need a corpse.

Find me one.

Day 1001.

Today I went to the Valley of Stars.

Someone was waiting for me.

He was wearing a gray raincoat

and he shot me in the neck.

He felt sorry for me.

He didn't give me the opportunity to say

he'd left something behind.

Day 743.

I decided to have breakfast today.

I walked to the station.

Charaki had two eggs. He gave me one.

I said: "Charaki, on this island

there are no chickens.

Where did you get the eggs?"

"Damn you", he said."With those words

you sent me straight into the abyss."

Day 67.

I killed a fly as it was airborne.

It's what they call a good death.

The last image it had of life

was of flying.

What'll be the last image I see?

What's that for?


What did he write?

What'll be the last image I see?

A stranded ship?

An abandoned, haunted cemetery?

964 crumbling headstones

over an ocean of crushed bones?

Does it make a difference?

Day 1021.

It's afternoon.

I think it's July.

I've been on this island

almost three years

and have never gone swimming.

I'm lying in bed

and think about swimming.

I exercise my brain.

But I wish I were a shark hunter, too.

Day 313.

Today I heard a motorcycle going by.

It was nice, I liked it.

Day 1201.

She brought me some basil today.

She was wearing a yellow floral dress.

We went out on deck together

and looked at the graves.

We ate bread, cheese and basil.

You're in luck.

When she puts red oil

on the forehead it's all over.

Tell them we'll bury the body

in the other cemetery.

Don't tell them that.

Why? It's just a cemetery.

It's not just any cemetery.

No one's been buried there

for a 100 years.

Samei only went there

so no one would disturb him.

Just tell them. Offer them money.

It's not that.

Tell me what you want it for,

then we'll see.

This man was once a village elder,

he can't be buried in the devil's ground.

Do you want to bury another person

so the earth quakes again?

Wasn't one earthquake enough?

I went to the ship

when you left for Tehran.

You didn't report back to the Agency.

- That's bold of you.
- Charaki...

think it through.

A corpse.

If not this one, then another.

Or it'll be you and that'll be no fun.

The ground is like the sea,

constantly in motion,

always shaking.

Sometimes the shaking is stronger,

they call it an earthquake.

Sometimes it only shakes a little,

like a slight itch,

you can't tell if it's really there.

There's no name for this.

I was searching for this,

for this nameless motion.


Look at this.

What is it?

A symbol. I think it's a name.



Someone visited him here.

It's on the walls too.

He was in love.


is there a Halimeh in the village?

There are many Halimehs here.

One that Samei knew?

There was one. Almas's daughter.

- Who's Almas?
- You met him.

He was cleaning my eyes.

What was his daughter doing here?

I never saw her here.

- It was just talk.
- What kind of talk?

Just gossip.

What sort of gossip? Where is she now?

She disappeared.

She's dead, at least that's what they say.

- I don't know.
- Look at me.

What do you mean, you don't know?

It's their business.

We keep out of it.

And you're telling me this now?

A girl disappeared and

you didn't investigate?

Lots of girls run away from here.

They take the night ferry for Bandar Abbas

or for Ras al-Khaimah.

Ask Almas about his daughter.

He'll make mincemeat of you.

I went to see Almas,

the ophthalmologist and shark hunter.

He wasn't home.

His house wasn't a home, either.

It was a long corridor

with an oil extraction lab on one side,

and a doctor's practice on the other.

It smelled strange,

somewhere between sulfur and cloves.

Charaki was right.

I didn't belong there.


Sorry, it was so hot I went inside.

- Let me give you a hand.
- No need.

I'm Charaki's colleague.

I know you.

But that isn't a shark.

They say you're a shark hunter.

It's not shark season now.

Do you eat that? It looks weird.

We coat ferries with its oil

to make them waterproof.

How many ferries

do they build here a year?

Enough to make a living?

God is merciful.

How many children do you have?


What about Halimeh?

She is dead.

Charaki only said

- she is missing.
- She's dead.

Charaki said she was missing.

Where did you look for her?

You don't look for a runaway.

How do you know she's dead?

They all die. They run away at night

and are eaten by wolves.

And if they get to Ras al-Khaimah,

it's worse than death.

You knew Mustafa Samei.

Mustafa Samei.

The haunted cemetery.

I don't know anyone.

I hunt sharks.

Go inside.

Sit down.

Sit down.

Smoke this.

Smoke it.

You won't understand me

until you smoke it.

She said: "You won't understand me

until you smoke it."

I lit a match.

She said:

"I know you're looking for my Halimeh.

Go to the Valley of Stars.

Behind the opening

that you looked through

someone's waiting for you.

Its leg is broken.

Put five bullets in its brain

and release it.

Bury it in the haunted cemetery.

Wait. The grave will say

where Halimeh is."

That's what she said.

At least, that's what I think she said.

I don't know if it was a dream.

Fetch hot water

and the leather bag from my suitcase!

Take her.

I held the baby in my arms.

Her mother was down there.

They pulled her body out.

Babak said:

"Here's the corpse you were looking for."

She told me her father had killed Samei.

She was whispering.

I brought my head closer. She took my hand

and said Almas had killed Samei.

We can lay out her body,

take it to the village,

to the station,

and go after Almas.

He'd come to kill them both,

but she'd hidden in the cellar.

Does it make a difference

if I take this body and arrest Almas?

Does it?

I want to know what's going on down there.

Let's bury her.

Don't be afraid.

Don't be scared.

I'll stay with you forever.

I promise.

An Indian worker said:

"When a corpse goes into the ground,

the earth opens its mouth

and there's an earthquake."

This is what they call a superstition.

The corpse had been buried

and the earth had shaken.

Hafizi said

he'd seen it with his own eyes.

This is what they call a quotation.

Now I had buried Halimeh

with my own hands.

I was afraid,

as if there was another earthquake,

it'd be what they call a nightmare.

There was an earthquake again.


You can laugh here,

but you would've pissed yourself there.

When the sun rose,

we got into the Impala

and drove all round the area.

The earth had five new cracks

and both seismometers

showed a 6.2 Richter earthquake.

But 200 meters away, it was again

as if nothing had happened.

We had to excavate to find out

what was going on down there.

There was no other way.

You could've made a report to us.

No, that wasn't an option.

You'd have found out what was going on,

we wouldn't have.

The locals wouldn't have helped,

and Babak didn't want anyone else.

We brought workers from Bandar Abbas.

When they heard the cemetery's name,

they ran away.

They wouldn't even talk to me.

On the way back I met some Indians.

They were musicians,

they were just sitting around.

They'd left India

and were heading for Lebanon.

They'd run out of money

so they'd sold their instruments.

They were stuck.

I begged them and offered them money

and they finally agreed.

We boarded the ferry.

This is the ship

and this is the road you took here.

I want your guys to dig here,


and here.

And your guys will dig here and here.

I want one person to dig over here.

As we left the port

I could tell we were being watched.

I didn't see anything,

but I had a strange feeling.

I thought someone was following us.

I didn't see anyone when I turned round.

I saw them when we got to the cemetery.

They were standing behind the cliffs

and peering out.

They were wearing jackets.

Black jackets.

One of them had a beard.

His glasses reflected the light.

When I looked again they were gone.

They were there for a second

and gone the next, like djinns.

Then they'd appear somewhere else.

I can't say how many there were.

They were everywhere,

and nowhere.


- What is it?
- Come here.

I'll mention a place,

but don't look at it yet.

In front of us, above the cliff,

there's a crescent formation.

Look at it but don't raise your head.

What is it?

- Can you see two people there?
- No.

I think I saw two people there.

Let's get a bit closer.

Pretend we're having a lively discussion.

Has the Agency got wind of it?

I doubt they could have this fast.

But maybe Charaki...

I saw someone.

Is it him?

I can't tell. He's too far away.

A glint of eyeglasses, beard?

He was wearing a jacket. I don't know.

Maybe they were trailing me

even before your arrival.

The Hozvaresh Ring?

There he is again!


Charaki is here.


Where did you find these scrawny guys?

Cold water!

I've got cold water. Come over here!

Hurry up and break this ice.

Hello Charaki.

I could have got workers for you.

There are lots of unemployed men

at the dock.

The dock workers wouldn't come here.

Anyway, I've brought you some cold water.

Come drink some cool water.

Hurry up.

Here's some cool water.

It gets as hot as hell here.


That's enough.

Let the others drink, too.

- Is Haddad in the ship?
- Yes.

- What's he doing here?
- I don't know.

And those two up there?

Drink up and get to work.

Go and see what he wants,

I'll ask what these guys know.

Darshan, come here.

Come drink some water.

I already drank some.

Don't be shy, come and drink.

I'm not being shy.

I was the first one to drink.


Someone get a rope,

there's some behind the ship!

Rope, rope!

They let me down on a rope.

The deeper I went,

the further I got from myself.

I ended up not knowing

where I was anymore.

I'd have liked to stay there forever,

in the darkness.

I wanted to untie

the rope around my waist

when someone took my hand.

He said, "Darshan, don't be scared.

I'm here."

Then he hugged me tightly

and pulled me out.

Pull him out.


Fetch some water.



What does that mean?

I saw a strange creature

with scales as black as tar,

and eyes red like fiery coal.

He said this in German?

He was in shock himself,

like he couldn't understand

what he was saying.

It was like a tape recorder

was playing someone's voice

from within his body.

I turned around

and saw the workers talking to each other.

They were scared.

But I was even more scared

because I could understand

what they were saying.

They were speaking in Urdu,

and I could understand

every word they said.

As if under the ground,

inside that well, something had shifted.

Charaki came and introduced himself,

saying he was Babak's colleague.

He said he'd brought me some water.

He handed me a small green flask

and said it was cool water.

I drank it,

and asked how he'd found ice

in this hellhole.

He made a joke

and said:

"Just wait."

"You haven't seen hell yet."

Then he laughed and disappeared.

I felt dizzy.

I wanted to call the guys.

Valieh felt like a huge stone in my arms.

I couldn't get up.

Then I saw myself standing at the door...

calling Babak.

I clearly remember, I called him twice.

I thought, if it's me

standing at the door and calling out,

who's leaning against the wall

and watching him?

In the midst of this chaos I heard Haddad.

He called my name.

I turned around. There was no one there.

I remember a wind was blowing,

or at least I could hear the wind.

I heard him again.

I walked towards the ship.

When and how much did you drink?


Keyvan, what's wrong?




Did you not see him?

Did you not see our Sheikh?

Did you not see our master?

I can smell him but I cannot find him.

Get up.

Get up.

Lift him up.

Thank you, you can go.

Would you like some water?

Where is Valieh?

- Who's Valieh?
- The baby.

Don't worry. She's safe.

I am worried. Where is she?

- With her family.
- She has none.

I'm her family.

She's with her grandfather.

With Almas?

You took her to Almas?

You gave her to Almas? You bastards!

- How could you do that!
- Mr. Charaki.

She's my child.

Why did you give her to Almas?

Let go of me!

You bastards, Charaki, you son of a bitch!

Where have you taken him?

Don't worry about that. Just answer me.

Where is Hafizi?

I ask the questions, you answer.

I won't say a thing until I see Hafizi.

Hafizi's already talked.

Now it's your turn.

Hafizi's talked? Play it back to me.

I remember a wind was blowing,

or at least I could hear the wind.

I couldn't hear clearly.

I heard him again.

I walked towards the ship.

When and how much did you drink?


Jahangiri, forget about this stuff.

What was going on down there?

I ask the questions and you answer them.


The interrogation breaks off here.

We listened to all the tapes

but found nothing.

We even went back to the

Anti-terror Committee's Archives,

thinking maybe we'd missed a tape.

But there was nothing.

The story would have remained open.

But an employee at the Archives

told one of my assistants

that Saeed Jahangiri was still alive.

I asked: "How can that be?"

He was an interrogator fifty years ago.

Then we found out he was born in 1943.

He'd been only 23 then.

Mr. Haghighi asked me to play myself.

I said I'm not an actor.

Back then I was twenty years old,

I was a kid!

After all, it's 50 years ago.

Mr. Haghighi said

that age wasn't an issue,

that I knew best

what had happened in that room.

The age of the interrogator

in the film wasn't important to me.

But having a real person

play himself fifty years later

was very appealing.

All I could do back then was let them know

that they were in danger:

they were being taken to their deaths.

I sadly couldn't help Mr. Haghighi.

I don't really know what happened next.

Perhaps Shahrzad Besharat knows.

Hozvaresh had five members.

One was Saeed Jahangiri,

who's still alive.

One was Babak Hafizi,

whose fate is unknown.

Two members were Isfahan agents.

They were Morudijan und Peyman Hariri.

But I believe the most important person

was Shahrzad Besharat.

She turned her back on politics

and worked in theater.

She worked with well-known directors.

In '67 and '68 I no longer had

a connection to the Agency.

I spent my time with theater people.

I was a stage assistant

and sometimes played small parts.

In '68, Abbas Nalbandian's play

won the National Radio and TV Award

for the best script.

The play's title was:

"A Deep, Vast and New Insight

into Fossils of

the 25th Geological Cycle."

On the opening night

everything changed for me.

There is a secret between you all.

Oh you thieves!

You have stolen his scent.

You have stolen a proud breeze

bearing his scent.

What are you saying?

Our patience is at an end!

We have packed our belongings.

Are you seeking someone?

You seem like an absolute stranger.

Are you seeking a woman?

How pained you look!

As if you haven't rested in months

in a woman's warm bed.

Fog fills and empties the stage.

Oh trace of the holy One

Why do you flee from us?

You know the fate of your devotees

From the other world

For the sake of my warm tears

For the sake of my ashen face



Shahrzad, I have to tell you something.

Say nothing, ask nothing.

- Where is Keyvan?
- Listen to me.

I've found a way to leave Iran.

They're waiting for me below.

- Where is Keyvan?
- I know where he is.

I'll tell you,

but first you have to listen to me.

Tell Keyvan the following.

Will you listen?

Tell him everything's in Halimeh's grave.

- Meaning what?
- Do you understand?

Repeat it.

- Everything is in Halimeh's grave.
- Good.

What did you all do on Qeshm?

The less you know the better.

Keyvan is in Isfahan...

They might follow you. Be careful.

I'm crossing the border tomorrow.

Give me 24 hours.

Go to Isfahan tomorrow night.

Give Keyvan the message.

He'll follow you.

Repeat the sentence again.

Everything is in Halimeh's grave.


Hide it in Halimeh's grave!

A can of baby formula, please.

Excuse me.

You dropped this.

Everything is in Halimeh's grave.

When he got back from Qeshm,

he visited me.

I'd waited for him for three years,

but now I didn't want to see him.

I was scared of him.

In the box that he had found

were some negatives.

He asked me if I could get him

the keys to the Golestan Studio.

He wanted to develop the negatives

in the darkroom there.

That was the last time I saw him.

- Were you followed?
- No.

Are you going out?

What did Behnam say exactly?

I already told you.

He said everything is in Halimeh's grave.

Is that all?

There's nothing in this box.

The negatives are all destroyed,

the rest are just souvenir pictures.

- Take a look.
- I don't want to see.

A piece of bone,


Behnam's notes are all destroyed.

What was I to find here?

He didn't want you to give up on the case.

You are to finish what he couldn't.

Did he tell you anything else?

Did he say what happened to us that night?

He said it's better I don't know.

Sit down a minute.

They're waiting for me.


I don't want to know anything.

They arrested all of us,

harassed us.

Jahangiri is still in jail.

I didn't say a thing.

But now I want to go. I want to live.

Are you going so as to now live?

- Did you speak to your source?
- Yes.

He didn't know a thing about the cemetery,

except they'd excavated something

after you all left.

- What?
- He didn't know.

A living thing. A creature.

He asked me to tell you to leave it be.

You can't find out anything else...

you have no possibilities.

He said they're still after you.

Whatever you did there

is still a serious issue for them.

He showed me a thick file

on your activities at the cemetery.

He made an allusion.

They obviously knew of Behnam's escape.

He's in Europe.

He went to Aachen for a few days,

stayed with old schoolmates.

Then he disappeared again.

He just wanted to show he could escape.

My source says

you should pretend to escape.

I won't run away.

Write me a letter.

In your own handwriting.

They read my letters. All of them.

I'll find a way to have

it sent from abroad.

It's easy.

This way they'll read the letter

and think you've also escaped.


I want to be with you.

I won't write a letter.


I didn't hear from you for three years!

Everyone thought you were dead.

They were looking for your corpse.

I've left you, Keyvan.

You need to understand this.

- Understand me.
- No, you understand me!

Very well.

There's paper there.

I'll put myself in your place.


April 5, 1969.

Dear Shahrzad. Hello.

I hope you're well.

- Write!
- I'll write it myself.

April 5, 1969.

Dear Shahrzad.


I hope you're well.

I hope you're as radiant as your smile.

I hope your smile is like the one

I dreamt of for three long years.

This is the beginning of a penance for me.

I never got the chance...

Life didn't give me the chance

to say goodbye to you.

Face to face.

They didn't give me the chance

to embrace you,

to tuck your hair behind your ears,

to kiss you,

to look at you,

and say: "Shahrzad,

my dearest Shahrzad,

my love,

my lady,

I'm gone.

Gone, never to come back.


Stop filming.

Or she'll kick us out.

Don't worry. We'll ask permission first.

- Ask her first.
- That's the doorbell.


- Mr. Haghighi sent us.
- Come in.

The shoot

was interrupted for nine months

because Jahangiri and Shahrzad didn't know

what had become of those three.

I was stuck, not sure what to do.

Until one morning

when I was checking messages at work,

I heard a message from a woman

saying she knew we were making a movie

and that she could help us.

Back then we received

many messages like that,

so I didn't take it too seriously.

I sent my assistants to check it out.

I found this among my father's things.

There was a note on it saying

if anyone came asking about this affair,

I should hand it to them.

I read that you were making a movie

about three young men

doing research at a cemetery in 1964.

I thought this must be it.

- Your father...
- Keyvan Haddad.

But he didn't have a wife or kids.

We researched this.

No he didn't. My father never married.

He adopted me.

- So you must be Valieh?
- That's right.

- Did your father pass away?
- Yes...

in the '87 rocket attacks,

along with my son.

Here's the envelope.


One, two three...



December 22, 1982,

3:45 pm.

I'm sitting in front of it.

I've loved silence all my life,

but I'm hoping for a sound now...

so you'll believe it exists.

Believe that it's in front

of me right now,

this old dragon.

I've been looking for it for 20 years.

I finally found it today.

In a dark cell, right here in Tehran.

Once it was able

to shake an entire cemetery,

crack the earth and spill out its guts.

I saw it with my own eyes.

But now it can't move.

Its breath is silent.

A huge snake that just looks at me.

It slowly blinks once in a while.

Too bad I don't have a gun.

I'd shoot five bullets in its head

and release it.

But all I have is this flimsy microphone.

You wouldn't even believe me

if it made a sound I could record.

Nor even if you were to see it.

You'd think you were dreaming.

Maybe I'm dreaming, too.

My problem is that I know.

I know I'm awake.

I know it's here in front of me

and I can only listen to its silence.

For God knows how long.

There's nothing else on this side.

Just absolute silence.

But this is the B side,

and what you might not notice at first

is that it's labeled:

"He who turns me over

will know my secret."

They separated us.

Took us separately to be interrogated.

Then they'd take us out again

and take another one in.

Suddenly Charaki came and said:

"We're to take you to Tehran."

Jahangiri, forget about this stuff.

What was going on down there?

I ask the questions and you answer them.


- Don't ask questions.
- What do you mean?

- Listen.
- What's going on here?

It's serious.

They'll soon know who we are.

Excuse me, Major, orders from Tehran:

We transfer them immediately.

The ferry is waiting at the port.

Get up!

This is an interrogation room.

I'm working.

Orders from the head of the Agency.

Get up, Mr. Hafizi.

I'm talking to you! Get up!

I forgot my glasses in there.

He says he forgot his glasses in there.

Tell him to come in. He has to sign this.

Go in.

Sign this.

Sign here.

What's he saying?

He says we left something behind.



We have to go back!

We left Valieh behind!

Should I go?

I'll go.

Give it to me.

You got my message.

I was waiting for you.

Give me the gun and take the baby.

She gave me her granddaughter

and took Babak's gun.

She fired five bullets

and killed Almas in his sleep.

I never found out

what she did with the sixth bullet.

When I got in the car, Behnam said:

"He's gone."

I turned around.

Babak was dead.

His eyes were still open.

They shone in the light of the fire.

There was no time to bury him.

We drove to the gulf.

Written, Produced, and Directed by
Mani Haghighi

Director of Photography: Houman Behmanesh

Editor: Haideh Safiyari

Set Designer: Amir Hossein Ghodsi

Costume Designer: Negar Nemati

Sound Designer: Amir Hossein Ghasemi

Sound Recording: Dariush Sadeghpour

Make-up: Mehrdad Mirkiani

Music: Christophe Rezai

Production Manager: Majid Karimi

1st Assistant Director:

Mehdi Tavakoli Zaniani


Amir Jadidi

Homayoun Ghanizadeh

Ehsan Goudarzi

Nader Fallah

Ali Bagheri

Kiana Tajammol

Kamran Safamanesh

Shahin Karimi

Island of Qeshm, 2016