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The 2008 Florence - River to River highlights

Raj Kapoor, a Bollywood-style Charlie Chaplin from the Fifties
The 2008 River to River. Florence Indian Film Festival will hold a retrospective on the great director Raj Kapoor, on the occasion of his 20th death anniversary, and screen a rich selection of the latest Indian films, as well as new special sections

The eighth River to River. Florence Indian Film Festival, completely devoted to Indian cinema and directed by Selvaggia Velo, will take place in Florence, Italy, from 5 to 11 December 2008.
Supported by Mediateca Regionale Toscana-Film Commission, Provincia di Firenze and Assessorato alla Cultura del Comune di Firenze as part of the Cinquanta Giorni di Cinema Internazionale in Florence, the Festival will be held at Odeon, the beautiful 20s-style theatre located right in the heart of the city.

The competition section of the Festival will screen the latest independent Indian feature films, shorts and documentaries, and the latest works on India by international directors.
Feature films
• The tender, moving metropolitan tale of rickshaw driver Amal, directed by Richie Mehta, who screened at River to River in 2004 his short film Amal.
• The spell cast by a mysterious picture-showing machine on a village of Kerala in the Twenties, in Bioscope by KM Madhusudhanan.
• Khuda Kay Liye (In the Name of God) by Shoaib Mansoor, the first Pakistani film distributed on a large scale in India after a long time, a powerful and realistic description of the lives of Muslims and Pakistanis after 9/11.

• The powerful and topical Mumbai Meri Jaan (Mumbai my love) by Nishikant Kamat, telling the terrible attacks of July 11th 2006 in the Indian metropolis. In 2006, River to River. Florence Indian Film Festival screened Dombivli Fast, Kamat’s first feature film, that was a hit with the audience.
• Ocean of Pearls by Sarab S Neelam, the intense story of a young and promising Sikh doctor who has to choose between a prestigious job in Detroit and obeying the values of the community in which he grew.
• Quick Gun Murugan by Shashank Ghosh, an exhilarating curry-style spaghetti western with a pinch of Matrix and Austin Powers thrown in, where a soft-hearted cowboy takes up the cause of veggie style against the invasion of Rice-Plate-Reddy. Ghosh’s first feature film, Waisa Bhi Hota Hai (Shit Happens Part II), was screened at the Festival in 2004 and won the Audience Award.

Short films
• Stories of communal life and peculiar encounters: an Indian family that is confronted daily by their son’s disability (Three Of Us by Umesh Kulkarni), two men sharing a drive (The Fiction by Spandan Banerjee), and a prostitute who hangs around the shop of a chemist who loves comic strips (Midnight Lost and Found by Atul Sabharwal).
• Three stories of change: a town council messenger who discovers a sad truth on his last announcement (Aakhiri Munadi - The Last Announcement by Ahsan Bakhsh), an ex rebellious girl struggling with the work world (Beast by Geeta Malik), and an unexpected death disrupting the social balances of a small village (Funérailles by Subarna Thapa).

Documentaries
Portraits of a surprising, contemporary India:
• Vani Subramanian directs Ayodhya Gatha (Tales from Ayodhya) depicting the theatre of the fights between Hindus and Muslims, in which people’s lives are interspersed with fear and hatred.
• Dabbawala - The Lunchbox Miracle by Antje Christ tells about the infallible work of the 5000 Dabbawala of Mumbai, who deliver a metal lunchbox (dabba) to over 200,000 workers a day.
• In Il Danzatore sacro by Diego D’Innocenzo and Marco Leopardi, Biswajit is trained in the sacred dance performed by children who, wearing female clothes and ornaments, play the Devedasis, Krishna’s wives.

• Vera Perrone and Georg Schmitt in Kushti - Wrestling into Power describe the life of Manu, an eighteen year old boy of the Yadaw caste who dreams of becoming a champion of Kushti, the Indian traditional wrestling which means embracing a unique lifestyle.
• In Salt in the Scars by Fiorella Castanotto, we see how, in the State of Tamil Nadu, picking salt is the main mean of support for the local population, as well as the cause of a state of exploitation that has been going on for decades.
• Christopher Mitchell in Super 30 tells the stories of thousands of students, led by a teacher of mathematics, who train to be admitted to the Indian Institute of Technology. Only the top thirty will be admitted to the prestigious university.
Two lives intensely lived up to the end:
• The Journalist and the Jihadi - The Murder of Daniel Pearl by Ramesh Sharma and Ahmed A. Jamal, in which the directors describe, with the help of film footage, the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, through interviews with his family, workmates and wife Mariane.
• In The Legend of Shiva and Parvati, Krishna Saraswati tells the story of his mother, a German hippie, who falls in love with an Indian guru, comparing it to the love story between the Indian gods Shiva and Parvati.

Among these films, the audience will vote for the best film, that will win the River to River DigiChannel Audience Award, consisting in the free promotion of it on DigiChannel.net, including web publication, newsletter, homepage screening and being part of the DC worldwide network.


The guests
Guests will include feature film directors Richie Mehta (Amal), Nishikant Kamat (Mumbai Meri Jaan), Sarab S Neelam (Ocean of Pearls) and Shashank Ghosh (Quick Gun Murugan); and documentary directors: Diego D’Innocenzo (Il Danzatore sacro), Fiorella Castanotto (Salt in the Scars), Christopher Mitchell (Super 30) and Ramesh Sharma (The Journalist and the Jihadi - The Murder of Daniel Pearl).

The retrospective
The Festival will feature a retrospective on Raj Kapoor (1924-1988), a director from a great family of film-makers who lived in the golden age of Indian cinema. An actor, producer and director, Kapoor is known as India’s Charlie Chaplin for his characters who become the stars of his quintessentially 50s Bollywood films.
Three of his masterpieces will be screened, in collaboration with the Directorate of Film Festivals of New Delhi. The Chaplin-inspired Awara (The Tramp), 1951, in which Raju, who has become a petty thief, is charged with murder, and finds his father again in a courtroom after many years. Shree 420, 1955, where the title stands for the article of the Indian Criminal Code that punishes fraud-related crimes, with the main character arriving in Mumbai in search of a better future and having to face the temptations of the metropolis. Finally, the colour film Bobby (1973), which tells, with Seventies atmospheres and an unforgettable soundtrack, a sparkling love story with heights of romance and genuine entertainment.


In addition to the retrospective on Raj Kapoor and the films in competition, the Festival will include two special sections:
• the best short animations from Anifest India 2008, organised by The Indian Society of India: 15 films shot by students and professionals that explore interesting ideas inspired by wide-ranging artistic and intellectual perspectives, including both traditional media and cutting-edge technology;
• the three most outstanding diploma films of 2007 and 2008 by the students of the prestigious Film and TV Institute of India


As to what’s new this year, River to River. Florence Indian Film Festival will enter the first Advantage India competition, in association with www.1takemedia.com, the largest jobs & resources portal for the Indian Film and TV, with over 15,000 listed members, and thousands of resume of film and tv professionals. The award is sponsored by Time Broadband and supported by Screen, one of India’s largest and oldest entertainment weekly magazines.
Advantage India is open to short films lasting up to three minutes and focussing on the positive sides of India. The jury includes filmmakers such as Kunal Kohli, Indra Kumar, R. Balki and Rohit Shetty, and Selvaggia Velo.
River to River. Florence Indian Film Festival will offer a platform to the three winners of Advantage India, which will be screened on the last night of the festival.

Side events
• Cinema Odeon, December 5th, 8 pm
The Apsara Dance Group will perform Kathak and Bollywood dances, as well as soundtracks from the films by the great Raj Kapoor.
• Doris, Via Pandolfini 26r - Florence, 11.30 pm
River to River Florence Indian Film Festival Opening Party, sponsored by MyMovies and in collaboration with Doris: Afi Khan will arrive from Manchester for a dj set of Bhangra and Bollywood music.
• Cinema Odeon, December 8th, Midday
Tea Talk with Paolo Scarnecchiag: the body of the actor and the voice of the soul: the role of music in Raj Kapoor’s films.
• Cinema Odeon, for all the Festival
Photo Exhibition by Toscana Photographic Workshop, that organises since 15 years photo workshops in Italy, and for the first time in 2008 also in India. The photos in the exhibition have been shot by students who have taken part to the Spirit of Shekhawati workshop, run by the National Geographic and Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey.

River to River. Florence Indian Film Festival, under the Patronage of the Indian Embassy in Rome and with the valuable support of the Italy-India Association, is sponsored by the Italian Ministry of the Cultural Heritage - Cinema Department, Regione Toscana and Mediateca Regionale Toscana-Film Commission, as well as Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, Assessorato alla Cultura del Comune di Firenze, Quartiere 1 del Comune di Firenze, and Milan’s India Tourism Office. Precious support has also been provided by Apt Firenze, Hotel Roma, Instyle, Car Sharing, Swiss International Air Lines. Media partners will be MyMovies and 1takemedia.com.

The Festival weekly ticket, in collaboration with MyMovies, is already on sale at Cinema Odeon. The card will be also valid as a MYmovies Movie Card until 30 November 2009.

During the Festival, food and music from the restaurant India at Odeon and Colle Bereto.

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