15th River To River - Press Release And Invite For The Pre-Opening Exhibition.by The Daily Eye Team December 2 2015, 4:40 pm Estimated Reading Time: 12 mins, 48 secs
The 15th River to River Florence Indian Film Festival, starting now
and with “the best of” in Milan (February 2016) and
for the first time ever in Bologna, in partnership with Cineteca di Bologna (January 2016).
15 guests, 4 side events and 2 special events.
From new independent films to the latest Bollywood productions, via tributes to the great names of Indian filmmaking, through to the contemporary video art scene: from 5 to 10 December Cinema Odeon in Florence the spotlight will be on the 15th River to River Florence Indian Film Festival, Italy’s only festival all focussed on Indian filmmaking (Piazza Strozzi 2).
As part of the 50 Giorni di cinema internazionale a Firenze, the festival will go over the history of India, from the 19th century to these days, in 30 films, including Italian, European and world premieres, 15 guests, 4 side events and 2 special events. The calendar will be completed by a tribute to director Deepa Mehta, who will be at the Festival to present the Italian premiere of her latest film, Beeba Boys (Sunday 6 December, 8.30 pm). On Saturday 5 December (8.30 pm, Cinema Odeon), to mark the opening of the 15th River to River Florence Indian Film Festival, the director will receive the honour of the “Keys to the City” from the Deputy Mayor of Florence, Cristina Giachi.
The River to River Florence Indian Film Festival has been founded and is directed by Selvaggia Velo, under the aegis of Fondazione Sistema Toscana, under the Patronage of the Embassy of India, in partnership with Regione Toscana, Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze and Ufficio Nazionale del Turismo Indiano in Milan.
A selection of the “best of” and 2015’s winning films will be screened at Spazio Oberdan in Milan (Viale Vittorio Veneto n.2) in February 2016 and for the very first time in Bologna, in partnership with Cineteca di Bologna, as part of the film library’s programme in January 2016.
All films will be screened at Cinema Odeon in the original version, with Italian and English subtitles.
OPENING AND CLOSING
To celebrate its 15th anniversary, the Festival will be opened and closed by two romantic comedies that have been box office hits in their country. The Festival will be opened (Saturday 5 December, 8.30 pm) by the Italian premiere of the wry comedy Dum Laga Ke Haisha – My big fat bride directed by Sharat Katariya about arranged marriage. Set in the early Nineties in a small village in Northern India, with music by Italian composer Andrea Guerra (son of director and scriptwriter Tonino Guerra and author of soundtracks to Ferzan Ozpetek’s, Roberto Faenza’s and Giuseppe Bertolucci’s films), the film tells about a complicated relation between Prem, owner of a cassette shop, and Sandhya, a teacher-to-be who is more educated than her husband. They are forced to marry by their families, despite his doubts about his future bride’s “size”. Then, director Sharat Katariya and Andrea Guerra will meet the audience. The Festival will be closed by the funny Dil Dhadakne Do directed by Zoya Akhtar (Thursday 10 December 8.30 pm), where the Mehras decide to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary by inviting their family and friends to a cruise through the European seas, after which things will never be the same again. The film, which was a box office hit in its country, has a stellar cast, such as ex beauty queenPriyanka Chopra (Miss World 2000 and actress in Quantico, the ABS series aired on Sky) and actor Anil Kapoor (known in Europe as an actor in Danny Boyle’s The Millionaire).
A TRIBUTE TO DEEPA MEHTA
The festival will pay tribute to Deepa Mehta with a selection of her films, masterpieces such as Water (2005), nominated by Canada for the Academy Awards in 2007 and third in Mehta’s Elements Trilogy, about the life of a young 8-year-old child widow who has to live in eternal repentance in a house that hosts Hindu widows, andMidnight’s Children (2012), from the novel of the same name written by Salman Rushdie – who also wrote the script – about the fate of two children switched at birth by a nurse to let them live each other’s life, inextricably bonded to India’s troubled road of triumphs and tragedies.
Producer, scriptwriter and director, winner of over 21 awards and nearly as many nominations, Deepa Mehta has quickly become the voice of the new India, attracting international critical attention partly for the topics her films deal with. The director will present the Italian premiere of her Beeba Boys (Sunday 6 December, 8.30 pm), a crime thriller about the violent culture clash among the Indo-Canadian gangs vying for control over the trafficking of drugs and weapons in Vancouver. The film is loosely inspired to the Indo-Canadian gangster “Bindy” Singh Johal, played by the famous star Randeep Hoda, and his gang of second- and third-generation Indian immigrants (the Beeba Boys, which means “the good guys”) who upset the western coast of Canada in 1990 with their territorial fights.
On Saturday 5 December (8.30 pm, cinema Odeon), the director will receive the‘Keys to the City” by the Deputy Mayor of Florence, Cristina Giachi.
FEATURE FILMS IN COMPETITION
Five feature films will be competing in the Festival. The first one, on Sunday 6 December (5.30 pm), is the European premiere of Zubaan by Mozez Singh, the first Indian film to have opened the prestigious Busan International Film Festival in South Korea, a coming-of-age story about the ambitious young orphan Dilsher, whose willpower pushes him up the ladder, success after success, to become CEO of a multinational company in Delhi. On Monday 7 (8.30 pm), the Italian premiere ofUmrika by Prashant Nair, winner of the audience award at the latest Sundance Film Festival, back from a round of successes in festivals all over the world. Starring the leading actor of Life of Pi, Suraj Sharma, and actress and model Smita Tambe, guest of the Festival, Umrika – meaning America – tells about the dreams and hopes that the “American Dream” inspires in the young residents of a small Indian village. On Tuesday 8 December, early 20th-century India will be at the centre of the European premiere Kadambari by Suman Ghosh, an elegant portrait of the Nobel Prize for literature Rabindranath Tagore and his relation with his sister-in-law, Kadambari Devi (06.00 pm, the director will be there). Afterwards (8.30 pm), the Festival will lead the audience into the Seventies with the biopic Main Aur Charles, Prawaal Raman’s debut, inspired by the charming French serial killer of indo-Vietnamese descent, Charles Sobhraj, played by famous actor Randeep Hoda (the leading actor in Beeba Boys). The film is a dive into the dangerous mind and dark world of the eclectic Sobhraj, , where right and wrong are mixed up in a life lived in unleashed luxury and wrapped in mystery. To coincide with the 31st anniversary of the Bhopal catastrophe, on Wednesday 9 (8.30 pm), Bhopal: a prayer for rain by Ravi Kumar, about the lethal gas spill from the Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal the night of 3 December 1984. The accident killed thousands of people, the greatest chemical catastrophe to these days. The film, with an international cast, including Misha Barton, Martin Shen and Kal Penn, will be presented by the director and by Colin Toogood of the Bhopal Medical Appeal, an association that supports the victims of the tragedy.
DOCUMENTARIES IN COMPETITION
The Doc India section, an unusual overview on India through the keen eyes of Indian and international documentary filmmakers, will open on Monday 7 December (5.00 pm) with the documentary Wallas on velos, Alton Valadares’ debut about the life of four men who have something in common: they spend their lives on their bikes, riding through the chaotic streets of a teeming Mumbai. Immigration and borders will be discussed on Tuesday 8 December (5.00 pm) by the European premiere Liquid Borders by Barnali Ray Shukla (who will be there), exploring India’s geographical and political borders and comparing them with the human, emotional and spiritual bridges that cohabit with them. On Wednesday 9 December (6.00 pm), more topical issues with the Italian premiere of Letters for the city yet to come by Gorav and Rohan Kalyan, filmed in the weeks that followed the fatal rape of a woman on 16 December 2012, a documentary that reflects on the past, present and future of New Delhi. This will be followed by the European premiere of The hope doctors by Diya Banerjee (7.00 pm), in which the deficiencies of India’s healthcare system are mended and told by clown doctors and workers.
SHORT FILMS IN COMPETITION
The short films competing for the Festival, including European and Italian premieres, will be mainly screened on two days. On 6 December, at 2.30 pm, a selection of shorts that deal with couples and relationships: Tehzeeb by Myriam Raja, about arranged marriage; Teaspoon by Aban Deohans, about the life of a couple with a bossy paralytic father-in-law, and Two Dosas by Sarmad Masud, a tragicomic romantic comedy. The director, Myriam Raja, and the actor, Javed Khan, will be there. On 9 December, starting at 6.30 pm, another selection of short films will bring the audience in a journey from Indian traditions to potential future scenarios. The first one will beIftar by Giri Mohan Coneti, in which an elegant woman and a labourer, both Muslim immigrants in New York, are puzzled and anguished by the dilemma of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan; then, Plan 9 by Ritvick Sharad, imagining a not too distant future in which huge technological advancements will help humans achieve the dream of colonising space; ending with What have I become by Arshad Khan, a glance on the real life of the outstandingly learnt taxi-drivers of Toronto and Montreal, a city where highly educated, hopeful migrants come and end up doing a job that is far below their qualifications. The director, Ritvick Sharad, will be there.
As to special events, in partnership with Cineteca di Bologna, on Monday 7 December (5.30 pm), the Festival will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the director’s birth withMeghe Dhaka Tara, a 1960 black and white masterpiece, restored by the Cineteca, directed by Bengali master Ritwik Ghatak about the terrible socioeconomic consequences of the partition of the Indian empire in 1947.
The programme includes a tribute to Pasolini on the fortieth anniversary of his death, with his Appunti per un film sull’India (Tuesday 8, 11.00 am). Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1967 in the streets of Bombay, New Delhi as well as Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, the documentary takes inspiration from the legend of an old maharaja who gave his body to the tigers to feed them, then actor and writer Giuseppe Cederna and writer and documentary director Folco Terzani will meet the audience for a talk, Viaggi e racconti intorno al pianeta India (Sala degli Specchi, Cinema Odeon).
New for 2015, the Indian Video Art section, this year ‘s partnership with the Kochi-Muziris Art Biennale, a prestigious festival of contemporary art in the southern Indian state of Kerala. On 6 December at 4.00 pm, Indian Video Art will present 9 of the most important Indian video artists of international fame, selected by the curators of the Biennale. They include Sudarshan Shetty with Waiting for Others to Arrive, a ghost story about forms of life that are dying out; Amar Kanwar with The Face, Thet Win Aung and A Love Story, films that criticise the Government of Burma and its relationship with the Indian Government; Gigi Scaria with The Ark, Political Realism and No Parallel, a political satire that denounces society’s indifference to urban policies; Riyas Komu with My Grave, a collaboration with actor Naseeruddin Shah, and The Last Wall, a documentary about a crazy graffiti artist.
On Saturday 5 December, at 6.00 pm, the exhibition venue of Fondazione Studio Marangoni in Florence (via San Zanobi 19r) will unveil a photo exhibition, Bollywood Talkies, by Turin-born photographer Vanessa Vettorello. Lights and shadows of Bollywood will be on display in 30 portraits that tell about the cinemas of Bombay and Pune, in India, and the people who hang around them. The exhibition is free and will be opee until 31 January (Monday to Saturday 3.00 pm-7.00 pm or by appointment at 055 481106; email@example.com. The gallery will close for Christmas from 20 December to 10 January). The project, a work in progress started in 2011 while the photographer was travelling around India, tries to tell about the complicated dynamics that result in lots of cinemas opening and closing as well as portraying the widely varied universe of the workers and audiences that hang around Bollywood, the world’s largest cinema industry. The photographic work is supported by video and audio interviews by Pierfilippo Mancini. “Bollywood Talkies” is the first part in a broader project that will go on in other cities across India, next stop Calcutta.
On Sunday 6 December, at 11.30 am, Matrimonio combinato o d’amore…? with Sabrina Ciolfi (PhD in Indology and Professor of Indian Culture and Cinema at Milan’s University) and Sharat Kathariya (director of
Dum Laga Ke Haisha).
On Tuesday 8 December, at 11.30 am, after Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Appunti per un viaggio sull’India, actor and writer Giuseppe Cederna and writer and documentary director Folco Terzani will meet the audience for a talk, Viaggi e racconti intorno al pianeta India. Both events are free and will take place in Sala degli Specchi at Cinema Odeon.
Cooking lesson and food tasting
On Wednesday 9 December, the Festival will present A taste of india, an Indian cooking class held by chef Angela Alessi at Cescot Firenze cooking school (Piazza Pier Vettori 8/10). From 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm, the chef will show hot to make traditional dishes, such as lemon curry basmati rice, vegetable kofta, tomato chutney, cardamom chickpea patties and hazelnut lassi. At the end of the class, the dishes may be eaten. The price is 20.00€. For enquiries and reservations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 055 2705306.
Then, the audience will select the best film from each one of the Festival’s sections (feature films, documentary films and short films), which will win the River to River Audience Award. Winners will be announced during the closing ceremony, on Tuesday 10 December at 8.30 pm (Cinema Odeon).
The Festival is sponsored by Salvatore Ferragamo, JK Place Firenze, Latte Maremma, Instyle, Air India, Hotel Roma, Pensione Canada, in partnership with Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, Kochi-Muziris Art Biennale, Cineteca di Bologna, Fondazione Studio Marangoni, The Florentine, Ied Firenze, Vini Mazzei, Villa Marcello, Amblè, Cescot Firenze.
The 15th River to River Florence Indian Film Festival has been made possible by a crowdfunding campaign on www.indiegogo.com, which raised 100% of the budget (15,000 US dollars).
The Royal India restaurant will be at Odeon Bistro with its dishes, for everyone to enjoy all through the Festival.
Follow the Festival on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rivertoriverfiff, on Twitter or on Instagram @river2riverfiff at #R2RFIFF. For further information, visitwww.rivertoriver.it.