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The River to River. Florence Indian Film Festival opens 11th edition

 

The River to River. Florence Indian Film Festival hosts a focus on Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore, with screenings and talks, plus films in competition and special sections.

 

The River to River. Florence Indian Film Festival, directed by Selvaggia Velo, had its first edition in Florence in 2001 as the world's first festival entirely devoted to films from and about India: a mirror on the culture of an ever-growing, ever-changing subcontinent.

Now in its 11th year, the River to River. Florence Indian Film Festival, under the Patronage of the Embassy of India, will take place at Odeon Cinema in Florence from December 2nd to 8th, 2011, under the aegis of the Region Tuscany and Fondazione Sistema Toscana Mediateca Regionale, as part of the Cinquanta Giorni di Cinema Internazionale a Firenze.

 

In collaboration with the National Film Development Corporation of Mumbai Mumbai and courtesy of Angel Television and Chhayabani Films, the Festival will pay a tribute to the Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the well known Indian poet, novelist and playwright, on the 150th anniversary of his birth, an important date for our country as well, as this year it celebrates 150 years of national Unity.

 

Films inspired by Tagore's works that will feature at the Festival include:

  • Khudito Pashan (Hungry Stones) directed in 1960 by one of Tagore's great followers, Tapan Sinha, with legendary actor Soumitra Chatterjee (who had already starred in some of Satyajit Ray's masterpieces). It tells the story of a man who moves into a haunted house and falls in love with the ghost that lives there.

  • Teen Kanya (Three Daughters) directed in 1961 by the great Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray who adapted three short stories by Tagore (The Postmaster, Monihara and Samapti ) as a tribute to the author in his birth centenary in 1961. Female characters are in focus and the director beautifully portrays their lives and emotions.
  • Ghare Baire (The Home and the World) directed in 1984 by Satyajit Ray, once again with Soumitra Chatterjee. The film, which was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes film festival in 1984, addresses a topic that the Bengali director had very much at heart: the emancipation of women.
  • The tribute will be closed by a documentary on the life of the Nobel Laureate: Rabindranath Tagore, directed by Satyajit Ray in 1961.

 

The main part of the programme is composed by the films in competition - features, shorts and documentaries nominated for the River to River Bitebay Audience Award and the non-competing special sections, as well as the Opening and Closing films, with directors and actors coming to introduce their works to the audience and the press.

 

Opening Film, in European premiere

  • Chaplin by Anindo Bandopadhyay, masterfully interpreted by the well-known stage actor Rudranil Ghosh. Inspired by the life of Charlie Chaplin, the film brings the audience in a magical atmosphere, showing the odyssey of a man amidst starvation and struggle in the pursuit of achieving fame by showcasing his talent.

After the film, Q&A with actor Rudranil Ghosh.

 

Feature films in competition, in European and Italian premiere

  • Bol (Speak) by Pakistan director Shoaib Mansoor, narrates of a father with six sons who deals with the everyday struggle of earning a living. But poverty is not the biggest problem as violence, intolerance and bigotry are the main issues of the struggle of the young women of the family.

After the screening, Q&A with the actress Zaib Rehman.

  • Elektra by Shyamaprasad, inspired from the ancient Greek myth, Elektra is a psycho-sensual drama heavily charged with primal energy. A rueful journey into the bruised familial bonds of an aristocratic household in Central Kerala, the film explores the texture of desire and loss. 

 

  • Gandu directed by the Bengali director Q, already screened at the latest Berlinale, narrates the story of a twenty-years old boy who hates his life and his mother, and raps out the hate, anger, dirt and filth of his existence. He and his rikshawpuller friend enter a psychedelic world filled with violence, drugs and pornography. Reality, fiction, dreams and hallucination all blend together to create an unique and progressive film which represents a part of today's India.

After the screening, Q&A with the director Q.

  • Snow by Rohan Fernando, in which the protagonist Parvati - after having lost her entire family in the Asian tsunami - leaves her small village in Sri Lanka and immigrates to some relatives in Canada, where she will star a new life.
  • Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara directed by the young Zoya Akhtar and a hit at the Indian box office, with a cast of young Bollywood stars. This is a crazy and fun road movie: a trip to Spain of three friends that will change their lives forever.

 

Short films in competition, in European Premiere

  • Can experiences change our life? It happens to four different women: the first one meets a stranger during her honeymoon (Malal by Nayla Al Khaja), the second tries to figure out the meaning of her dream (Poshak - Facade by Iram Parveen Bilal), the third decides to follow her Dhamma (Prakriti by T. Surendra ) and the last one discovers that real friendship is not playing a social role (The way it's played by Shripriya Mahesh).
  • How much we accept to lie in our lives? The two protagonists of Esha by Reza Dahya do it to have a Western name, a man in order to hide an afternoon affair to his wife (How to lie to You Wife by Shankey Srinivasan), a whole family to seem free spirited and unconventional (Prakata Het Yad by Milind Dhaimade) and the young assistant of a photographer to play cupid (The Return Address by Abi Varghese).

After the screenings, Q&A with director Milind Dhaimade.

 

Documentaries in competition, in European and Italian premiere

  • Quirky and intimate portrait of Calcutta and its people, who love to talk about everything, in Adda: Calcutta, Kolkata by Surjo Deb.
  • Arranged Happiness directed by Daniela Dar-Creutz, that follows all the passages that a whole Indian family has to face for the wedding of one of the daughters: from the choice of the husband to the ceremony itself. The thing the parents still don't know is that the director, their guest, is in a relationship with their only son.

After the screening, Q&A with the director Daniela Dar-Creutz.

 

 

  • In Dreaming Taj Mahal by Nirmal Chander the taxi Pakistani driver Haidar has a dream: going to India to see the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately the long-standing relationship of hostility between India and Pakistan, make Haidar's quest for a visa look almost impossibile.
  • Valerie Berteau and Philippe Witjes in Himself He cooks shoot wonderful images of the Sikh temple of Amristar, which is everyday crowded with dozens of thousands of prayers, going there for the rituals, and with hundreds of volunteers that prepare the food. The result is a huge choreography, articulate on the rhythm of the preparation, in a never ending circle.

After the screening, Q&A with the directors Valerie Berteau and Philippe Witjes.

  • The hard training to become a kathakhali dancer is narrated without a word, but with images as much powerful and effective in La Table aux Chiens by Cédric Martinelli and Julien Touati.
  • Unique images - shot by Filippo Carli in Nataraja - show us  daily actions, almost like rituals, painting a fresco of colours and spirituality bringing on the big screen the dance and the gesture that go with everyday life in some villages, in the constant effort of keeping the connection with the spiritual world of nature.

After the screening, Q&A with the director Filippo Carli.

  • The Jewish community in Mumbai is the protagonist of Next Year in Bombay. The directors, Jonas Pariente and Mathias Mangim, give us a reflection on the Jewish's life outside Israel.
  • Videokaaran by Kavalmaniyam Jagannathan is about the very complex cinema-fan relationship in India where fans consume films differently and also edit out them according to audience tastes.

 

Closing Film, in Italian premiere

  • Dhobi Ghat by Kiran Rao, starring actor-producer Aamir Khan, is about the intertwining relationships of four people and explore the city of Mumbai. In her directorial debut, Kiran Rao offers an emotional experience of a city, mixing both personal and universal themes.

Non-competing special sections

  • In partnership with 1takemedia.com, the fourth edition of Advantage India, whose three  winners will be screened during the closing evening of the Festival.
  • The six best films by the students of Film and Tv Institute of India in Pune and of Whistling Woods International Institute for Film and Television Animation & Media Arts in Mumbai.
  • The most interesting works of Anifest India 2011, in collaboration with The Animation Society of India.

 

Side events and a special screening

  • Friday, December 2nd

At the Opening Ceremony Maya Devi and Rajput Maharani for Nomad Dance Fest on Tour will perform gipsy dances of Rajasthan and Hindi Bollywood Dance.

After the Opening Film, Indian dj set at Odeon Bistro.

  • Saturday, December 3rd at 11.30 am

Talk - free entrance

Return to pure elements. Images of ascetics and everyday life in India.

Speakers: Filippo Carli and Folco Terzani.

 

  • Sunday, December 4th at 11.30 am

Talk - free entrance

Rabindranath Tagore between innovation and tradition.

Chairman: Maria Grazia Beverini del Santo.

Speakers: Sauro Albisani, Franca Bacchiega and Fabrizia Baldissera.

 

  • Wednesday, December 7th, after the screening of the film Gandu of 9 pm

Indian dj set at Odeon Bistro.

  • Thursday, December 8th at 11.30 am

Screening of the 2010 Festival Audience Award winner.

I Am by Onir which narrates four different stories, poignant and moving of an insensitive, unfriendly world where individual identity is often trampled over.

 

The Festival is supported by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage - Cinema Directorate, the Region Tuscany and Fondazione Sistema Toscana Mediateca, the Cultural Department of the City of Florence, as well as Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze along with OAC and the India Tourism Office in Milan. Precious support has also been provided by our sponsors, Angela Caputi Giuggiù, Hotel Roma, Instyle, Jet Airways, Klopman, Lisa Corti Firenze, Sport Clinic Center and the Indian Restaurant Zafferano, as well as the collaboration with CTS and Palazzo Tornabuoni, with the Patronage of the Italy-India Association.

The tickets will be on sale at Odeon theatre from 26 November onwards.

Last minute accreditations will be possible during the Festival week.

 

At Odeon Bistro, all through the Festival, the guests may enjoy the excellent Indian dishes prepared by Florence-based Ristorante Zafferano.

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Chatelin Bruno
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