The first form of history is the story you tell yourself.
In the I mine paleo-anthropologists dig for our ancestors while miners dig for diamonds. At the same time, the entries of a historian's diary reveal his personal digging for what he considers the most valuable diamond: the ‘self ’. the I mine is a poetic film with extraordinary characters in search of a voice. Real historical figures perform as characters and viceversa in an experimental narrative about history-writing.
John P. Roquentin's diary entries guide us through his own struggle while he writes a history book: the biography of a woman who revolutionize the world of auctions. Roquentin is confused, he not only doubts knowing who he is, but also wonders about who the woman really was, what her real 'I' was, beyond the collection of data that Roquentin organizes in chapters. The historian reflects about the language of history and about the writing process involved in the construction of the psychological 'I'.
the I mine takes us to the South African region known as the 'Cradle of Human Kind’, an area where several species of human predecessors have been found during the last century. As an example, the most recent discovery took place in 2013, when thousands of fossil remains belonging to an unknown hominid were found. This and other discoveries have been historically connected to the rich presence of precious metals in that area. Because of this, the film weaves images of those who dig in search of fossils that help us understanding who we are with images recorded 800 meters underground, in the mine where some of the most valuable diamonds in the world have been found. Different notions of value materialize as rocks – gemstones or fossils – in this area.
Meanwhile, Roquentin wonders: Is the self a crystal clear gemstone covered by layers of writing and rewriting?