In a poor Iranian village, the children work hard to support their families. One day nine year old Yahya and his friend Leyla find a precious statuette in the desert. As the authorities search for the lost treasure, sharing Yahya’s passion for cinema, Yahya’s boss Nasser Khan decides to help the children find its rightful owner.
“The pressure of fame was hard to cope with. I had to disappear.”
Winners is the latest International Feature submission for the United Kingdom. Set in a tiny town of Garmsar, around two hours east of Tehran, the film is about a nine year old boy, Yahya, and his passion for cinema and about a man, Naser, who has given up his old life as an actor.
The film takes place in 2017. A young woman is in possession of a trophy and she’s back in Iran. When she leaves her taxi to make a quick errand, the taxi driver is forced to leave her behind. In the back seat of his car is the statue. He drops off the prized award at a local post office in Garmsar. As the post office employee is preparing to send it back to Tehran and to the rightful owner, another worker, Mr. Ezzat, steals it recognizing it as an Oscar.
While Mr. Ezzat is heading home to show off this amazing reward to his family, he loses it and a young movie fanatic Yahya and his best friend Leila find it and decide to keep it. Yahya and Leila, while not at school, work at a garbage dump collecting recyclable plastic for small amounts of money. As an Afghan refugee, Yahya and his mother barely scrape by, but his passion for movies keeps him going staying up all night to watch films like Chocolat.
Now in possession of this Oscar, and while watching yet another film, The Song of Sparrows, Yahya will make a discovery that will change his life, and the life of his boss at the recycling depot, Naser.
Director Hassan Nazer has created a charming, beautiful, tender film about two children who come across something truly special. And this film is a love letter to cinema. The film opens up with a note dedicating the film to four of the greatest Iranian directors: Abbas Kiarostami, Asghar Farhadi, Majid Majidi, and Jafar Panahi. Winners is a film celebrating their work and their voices. Winners is a film not only about Iranian cinema but to all cinema. Films allow us to dream. Films allow us to escape. Films allow to us to experience worlds we’ve never seen before. Films allows us to be anyone we want to be. Films makes us all winners.