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14th River to River Florence Indian Film Festival: portraits of a generation

 

 

The festival will pay Europe’s first tribute to international star Irrfan Khan, known all over the world for his roles in “Life of Pi”, “The Millionaire”, “The Amazing Spiderman”, “Lunchbox” and the HBO series “In Treatment”. 

River to River Florence Indian Film Festival will take place in Florence from 6 to 12 December, Rome (13 and 14 December), Milan (February 2015) and, for the first time ever, in Mumbai (March 2015). The festival will showcase 40 films, among them Italian, European and wordwide premieres.

 

Child prostitution in Calcutta’s brothels; a single mother’s unease in a foreign country; a song contest for manual workers who try to redeem themselves from a hard life; the rural India of the castes, the aspirations of the young generations, between tradition and a rapidly-evolving world, through to sports as a way to personal redemption: these are some of the topics addressed by the 14th River to River Florence Indian Film Festival, Italy’s only festival all about Indian cinema, which will take place at Cinema Odeon (Piazza Strozzi 2), in Florence, from December 6th to 12th, with over 40 films (Italian, European and world premieres), including brand-new independent films and the latest Bollywood productions. The picture is completed by Europe’s first tribute to Indian star Irrfan Khan, with 2 Italian premieres (the actor will receive ‘The Key to the City’ from the Lord Mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, at cinema Odeon, on December 7th at 08.30 pm); 5 special events; 2 morning talks and 10 international guests who will meet the audience after the films.

 

As part of the 50 Giorni di Cinema Internazionale a Firenze, the Festival has been founded and is directed by Selvaggia Velo, under the Patronage of the Embassy of India and FIND - India/Europe Foundation for New Dialogues, with the contribution of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage - Cinema Department, the Tuscan Region and Fondazione Sistema Toscana, Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze and OAC, and the India Tourism Office of Milan.

 

Then, the festival will move to Nuovo Cinema Aquila (via l’Aquila n.66) in Rome (December 13 – 14) for a two-day festival and, in February 2015, it will move again to Spazio Oberdan in Milan (Viale Vittorio Veneto n.2) for the “best of” Florence’s festival. For the first time ever (March 2015), the River to River Florence Indian Film Festival will land in Mumbai, at the Blue Frog, with the “best of” the Florence Festival, in partnership with Pocket Films of Mumbai and Blue Frog.

 

OPENING AND CLOSING FILMS

The River to River festival will open with a smile on Saturday, December 6th (at 08.00 pm), with the Italian premiere of the on-the-road comedy Finding Fanny by Homi Adajana, a box-office hit in India, with a stellar cast including Nasseruddin Shah, Arjun Kapoor, Pankaj Kapur, Dimple Kapadia and Deepika Padukone, about an unsent love letter found thirty years later and five friends going on a journey to try to find the addressee. The film will be introduced by Arunima Sharma, associate director. Then, Deepika Padukone will star in the closing film too, on Friday, December 12th (at 8.00 pm) the Italian premiere of the colossal Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, a gripping Bollywood take on the classic Romeo and Juliet story, with fairy-tale music and scenes.

 

 

 

 

 

A TRIBUTE TO IRRFAN KHAN

Irrfan Khan, who will soon be in all cinemas in Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World (the new chapter in the Jurassic Park saga, out in June 2015), will receive Europe’s first tribute, with the screening of three of his films: Qissa by Anup Singh (Italian premiere, on Sunday 7th at 08.30 pm, in the presence of director Anup Singh and Irrfan Khan), the story of a little girl raised as a boy by her father and married off to a girl, Paan Singh Tomar by Tigmanshu Dhulia (Italian premiere, on Monday 8th at 05.00 pm), a biopic about an Indian soldier and 3000 metre champion forced to become an outlaw, and the cult movie The Namesake by Mira Nair (on Friday 12th at 04.30 pm), about an Indian couple in New York, who try to fit in the city. In addition, seven episodes of the third series of the US HBO episodesm of In Treatment that the actor starred in will be screened on Tuesday 9th (at 05.00 pm), on Wednesday 10th (at 04.30 pm), and on Thursday 11th (at 04.00 pm).

 

FEATURE FILMS IN COMPETITION

Five feature films will be competing in the festival. The first one, on Sunday, December 7th  (at 05.30 pm), will be the comedy M Cream by Agneya Singh, the coming-of-age story of a group of friends who, by looking for a legendary kind of hashish, will change their outlook on their values and lifestyle; on Monday, December 8th (at 08.30 pm), love will take centre stage in the European premiere of Mrs. Scooter by Shiladitya Moulik (who will be there to meet the audience), a story of emotions on a scooter, and on Tuesday 9th (at 08.30 pm), the poetic Fandry by Nagraj Manjule, a multi award-winning film and the winner of the Mumbai International Film Awards, about the complicated story between a young dalit, a member of the untouchable caste, and a classmate from a higher caste. On Wednesday, December 10th, to coincide with the Human Rights Day, at 08.30 pm, the festival will screen the Italian premiere of Sold by Oscar-winning director Jeffrey Brown (who will be there to meet the audience). Having Emma Thompson as executive producer and starring David Arquette and Gillian Anderson, the film is about child prostitution in Calcutta’s brothels. The selection will be closed on Thursday, December 11th (at 08.30 pm), by the Italian premiere of I am Yours by Iram Haq, starring Amrita Acharia of Game of Thrones fame, the story of a young Indian-Norwegian single mother who lives in Oslo and the problems of making the two cultures live together, between love and loneliness.  

 

DOCUMENTARIES IN COMPETITION

The Doc India section for all forms of documentary films will take off on Monday, December 8th (at 04.00 pm), with the documentary Goonga Pehelwan by Prateek Gupta, Mit Jani and Vivek Chaudhary, about the life of the deaf Indian wrestling champion of the same name and his attempts at qualifying for the Rio Olympics 2016, while Tuesday, December 9th (at 06.30 pm), will see the world premiere of Chronicles of a temple painter by Shravan Katikaneni, the story of a Hindu man who saves a Muslim baby girl from the explosion of a bomb in Hyderabad, to the outrage of both communities. It will be followed (at 07.30 pm) by the Italian premiere of That elephant from the bridge by Abhilash Vijayan, a silent portrait of life in an Indian circus.

On Thursday 11th (at 6.30 pm), music will steal the limelight in Champ of the camp by Mahmoud Kaabour, a documentary about an "X Factor"-like song contest in pure Bollywood style, entered every year by lots and lots of Indian manual workers working in the Arab Emirates in the attempt to redeem themselves from a lonely life.

 

SHORT FILMS IN COMPETITION

The selected short films at the 14th River to River Festival, all Italian premiers, will be screened on two days. The first day will be focussed on everyday life stories, on Sunday, December 7th (starting at 04.00 pm), with 6 Cup Chai by Laila Khan, Dreamworks by Vishal Vittal, Hechki by Kartik Singh, My Dear Americans by Arpita Kumar, and The Frame by Samvida Nanda. After the films, directors Laila Khan and Kartik Singh will meet the audience. The second day, Wednesday 10th (starting at 05.30 pm), will be all about love, in all its forms, with the short films 8 to 8 by Pratim Dasupta, Bar Stools by filmmaking duo Varun Bajaj and Neale Hemrajani, Chypre by Anish Dedhia, Int Café night by Adhiraj Bose, and Stuff by Sofian Khan. On Thursday 11th (at 11.00 am), the schedule will also include a Student Film Section, a selection of non-competing premieres from India’s three main film schools, the Film and TV Institute of Pune, the Whistling Woods of Mumbai, and the Prasad Film and TV Institute of Chennai.

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

New, this year, will be the Online Stories, contemporary Indian society told through the Internet and its social networks by the 2.0 generation of filmmakers. The selection will include (on Sunday 7th, at 02.30 pm) Hank and Asha by James E. Duff, a film about love in the age of the Internet told through the friendship between an Indian girl who studies in Prague and a lonely New-Yorker, in which two strangers look for a deep connection in a hyper-connected world; the European premiere of Acceptance (on Monday 8th, at 03.00 pm) by Matthew Chan (who will be there with the two actors, Vinesh Nagrani and Pierre Cassini), the autobiography of the director whose roommate, with the help of social networks, deceives his friends by pretending he has won a  place at Harvard. The section will be completed (on Wednesday 10th, at 06.30 pm) by Diary Of an Overly Reactive Middle Aged Teenager by Prashant Sehgal, the ‘webcam diary’ of Saski, an aspiring actress in Mumbai, which tells how the girl spends her days from her webcam’s point of view.

The festival’s special events will include three non-competing documentaries, starting on Monday, December 8th (at 11.00 am) with Upaj by Hoku Uchiyama, about the professional and human relationship between kathak dance guru Pandit Chitresh Das and Afro-American tap star Jason Smith, while at 02.30 pm renewable energy will be the subject of the world premiere Narmada - Power to the people by Fahar Samar, a documentary about the mammoth project for the construction of a bridge on the Narmada dam. The selection will be closed on Friday 12th (at 06.30 pm) by the documentary-style interview Zakir Hussain: Sessions by Anisa Quereshi, about one of the best-known living table players. After the film, Zakir Hussain, winner of three Grammy Awards and composer of soundtracks for Francis Ford Coppola’s films, will talk with the audience on Skype.

For the seventh year on end, the festival will be partnering with Pocket Films of Mumbai in Advantage India, a short film contests where the two winners - Chappalled by Yusuf Abidin and Rani by Manish Sharma - will be screened on the final day, Friday, December 12th, at 08.00 pm. The winner of the first prize at Advantage India  - The Frame by Samvida Nandi -  will automatically be entered in the short film section in competition of the festival.

 

THE AWARDS

In each section, the audience will select the winner (feature films, documentary films and short films) that will receive the River to River Doombo Audience Award.

 

All films will be screened at Cinema Odeon (P.zza Strozzi n. 2) in the original language, with Italian and English subtitles.

 

SIDE EVENTS

Talks

On Sunday 7th at 11.30 am, the talk Online Stories. Come i social media e le nuove tecnologie stanno cambiando l’India (How social media and new technology are changing India) with Troy Nachtigall, social media expert and lecturer at Ied, and Marco Restelli, expert of Indian studies at Milan’s Statale University and journalist (Cinema Odeon - free entrance).

On Monday 8th, at 12.00 pm, prompted by the film Upaj, the talk L'arte di improvvisare tra musica e danza (The art of improvising, between music and dancing), with Rossella Fanelli, kathak dance lecturer and performer, Nihar Mehta, tabla player, and Ernesto Tacco, tap dance lecturer and performer (Cinema Odeon - free entrance).

Wednesday 10th, at 05.00 pm, to coincide with the Human Rights Day, presentation of the book La scelta di Samir by Valeria Benatti, journalist, about the work of Indian paediatrician Samir Chaudhuri, in partnership with the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights Europe. Guests will include paediatrician Samir Chaudhuri, founder and director of the Child In Need Institute - Cini India, and Valeria Benatti, author of the book (Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights Europe, Via Ghibellina 12a - free entrance)

 

 

 

 

 

Museums and exhibitions

On Tuesday, December 9th, at 07.00 pm, opening of the video festival River to River - OFF, a selection of videos by the famous four contemporary Indian artists Anish Kapoor, Nikhil Chopra, Shilpa Gupta and Subodh Gupta, in partnership with Museo Marino Marini and Galleria Continua – San Gimignano/Beijing/Les Moulins. The exhibition will be open until December 12th (Museo Marino Marini, Piazza S. Pancrazio - free entrance).

Starting on Tuesday, December 9th, in partnership with Museo Stibbert, the festival will arrange three guided tours of the Indian collection of the museum, on Tuesday 9th (from 12.00 pm to 01.00 pm), on Wednesday 10th (from 12.00 pm to 01.00 pm) and on Friday 12th (from 02.00 pm to 03.00 pm) (Museo Stibbert, Via Stibbert 26 – holders of the cinema ticket will receive a 2 euro discount on the ticket).

During the week of the festival, at Museo Salvatore Ferragamo (Palazzo Feroni, Piazza S. Trinita 5) holders of the cinema ticket will receive a 3 euro discount on the ticket.

 

This year, the River to River Florence Indian Film Festival has formed a new partnership with luxury hotel J.K. Place Firenze, which welcomes its international guests in an exclusive, private atmosphere right in the heart of the city. In addition, for the second year on end, the River to River will be supported by Salvatore Ferragamo, a brand that has always been keen on dialoguing with the world of culture, art and cinema. Mediapartner, the taxidrivers.it movie website. In addition, the Festival is also sponsored by Klopman, Latte Maremma and Instyle. Its partners include: Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, Palazzo Tornabuoni, Hotel Roma, Pensione Canada, Vini Mazzei, Amblè, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Europe, Museo Marino Marini, Galleria Continua-San Gimignano/Beijing/Les Moulins, Museo Stibbert, Teatro del Sale and Gabrio Staff Olimpo.

 

During the week in Florence, Odeon Bistro will host the Indian cuisine of Royal India restaurant.

 Website www.rivertoriver.it

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