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Indian treats at Florence River to River Fest

Feature films
Hari Om by Bharatbala
The director
Bharatbala, a filmmaker with a distinctive visual style, has produced innovating images of India throughout his entire career. Crossing the whole length and breadth of India and its rich cultural heritage, his films seem to capture the essence of the land, resulting in some of the most dynamic works to be rewarded at the Cannes and New York Film Festivals. Hari Om is the first of a series of stories from India that Bharatbala has envisioned to tell audiences around the world through cinema.

The film
Hari Om takes us on a romantic adventure through Rajasthan. Following an unlikely trio, the film is about discovering yourself and others, about getting in touch with the true spirit of India. It is the story of a happy-go-lucky rickshaw driver who is content with his status until the ricksaw-mafia seeks him out and turns his life upside down. At the same time a beautiful French tourist comes into the picture and wants to test her aristocratic fiancé by taking off on a road journey with the rickshaw driver. All three confront their fears and discover what they really want out of life.

Kal-Yesterday&Tomorrow by Ruchi Narain

The director
Ruchi Narain has lived in India, Sri Lanka and Muscat. She studied Filmmaking at the University of California, and entered Mumbai’s film industry in 1995 as an outsider managing to build a strong body of work. Her first experience in filmmaking was as assistant director on Sudhir Mishra’s Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin (1995). With director Sudhir Mishra she also worked as an associate director and screenplay writer on Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi (2003) and Calcutta Mail (2003). Kal-Yesterday & Tomorrow is the first truly independent film to come out of Bollywood.

The film
Bhavna and Tarun were in love. They, and everyone else thought that they would get married some day, but then Tarun left Bhavna for her best friend, Maya, daughter of an industrialist. It seemed that Tarun’s ambition had got the better of him. Whatever the reason, they got married and Bhavna was left, alone.
The film starts one year later, when one night Tarun turns up at her house. The next morning Bhavna discovers that Maya, Tarun’s wife and her ex-best friend, has been found dead. Murdered. Now she unwillingly becomes Tarun’s alibi.

Documentaries

Jyotirgamaya (Lead me to the Light) by Dheeraj Akolkar

The director
Born in 1978, Dheeraj Akolkar lives now between Pune and Mumbai. After graduating in Architecture, he started to work in cinema as assistant production designer for a feature film, then covered several roles: art director, production designer, chief assistant director and, finally, director. Jyotirgamaya is the first film written, directed and commented by him.

The film
175 children on a journey from the world of atrocities, hunger and abuse to the Snehalaya (Home of Love) established by Father Lukose Cheruvalel. The film captures the transformation that this love brings into their lives as they prepare to face the world yet again, with the courage of small dreams blooming in their hearts. Jyotirgamaya is the story of these children and their caretakers walking together on the path of the light.

Transcendental Feeling of Himalaya by Krishna Das

The director
Krishna Das teaches sitar and other musical instruments of India and has composed transcendental music for years. Much appreciated in India and in Europe, he has dedicated his life to music, in which he manages to infuse a profound feeling of joy and of inner enchantment. On many occasions his concerts and seminars have received the support of important world organizations like Unicef, FAO, United Artist for Peace amongst others.

The film
The contents of this film consist mainly of the link that exists between elements of the material dimension and the Divine. The transcience and the consequent disillusion of the material universe are an aspect of reality that the entire human race is fated to witness. The Himalaya with its majestic energy rouses inside us a new sensitivity for “the incessant flight of time” and stimulates new questions about being “Eternal Souls”.

Bahurupia-the art of disguise by Pietro Silvestri

The director
Freelance documentarist, Pietro Silvestri began his career as a video artist and theatrical director. In 1997 owing to the acquaintance of Indian director Aban Biswas, he travelled to Bengal where he worked with a group of traditional artists. He shot a series of documentary films analysing social and anthropological aspects of West Bengal’s culture.

The film
Bahurupia is an ancient performing Indian art considered the mother of theatre. The remaining families which retain this tradition travel throughout India just like nomads. The story shows us the life in a camp where some Bahurupia families live and it is told by Tapon, a kid eager to propagate the artistic heritage of his ancestors.


Between the Lines by Thomas Wartmann

The director
Wartmann studied journalism in Munich and later direction in Los Angeles at the American Film Institute. He travelled as a journalist for major print magazines in Asia, Africa and South-America. Since 1994 he has written and directed more than 25 documentaries.

The film
The film documents the tremendous effort that the photographer Anita Khemka puts forth in order to capture the life of the eunuchs of India - the Hijras - living as outcasts on the edge of society. We follow Anita through India with three Hijras - Laxmi, Rambha and Asha - on a journey that introduces us to a bizzare world of fascination, revealing their lives, their laughs, their celebrations, the prostitution and the struggles of what it means to be a Hijra.


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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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