Buried Dreams

Director: Laurent Salgues
Screenwriters: Laurent Salgues

Institute History

  • 2007 Sundance Film Festival


After traveling across the vast desert expanses of northeast Burkina Faso, Mocktar, a Nigerian peasant, arrives in a mining camp looking for work. Racked with grief from a past tragedy, he takes a job mining gold for the camp's unpitying boss. Carrying small hand picks, the miners crawl through dangerously narrow shafts leading hundreds of feet down, then haul bags of rock back up. Although Mocktar has clearly chosen to lose himself here, he befriends Coumba, a young widow raising her daughter. Like all the castaways, she also waits desperately for a nugget of gold and a better life.

The characters in Laurent Salgues's entrancing debut feature occupy both a literal and figurative netherworld. Pulling amazing textures from the windswept wasteland, his widescreen images are hypnotic. But it's the camera's evocation of people that is most striking. Salgues is more interested in showing us inner landscapes—and the dignity of these souls who seem to erode before us. For the rest, it's cruel irony that they are so close to gold but so far from happiness.

In an amazingly stoic performance, Makena Diop conveys an entire journey of self-discovery. We have only a vague sense of Mocktar's wounds, but it's clear that riches will not salve them.

— John Nein

Screening Details

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