From the Ganges to the Arno: River to River Indian Film Festival

Dec. 6 – 11: RIVER TO RIVER, FLORENCE INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL. Cinema La Compagnia, Via Cavour 50/r. Films will screen in the original language with English and Italian subtitles.

The themes of this year’s festival focus on feminism and social injustices in Indian culture. Guests will have the opportunity to view various feature films, documentaries and short films.  Thirty-five events are planned to take place including world premieres, film screenings, exhibitions, talks, and cooking classes.

Guests will vote for the winners in each category to receive the “River to River Audience Award.” Guests in attendance may include international directors and actors.

The program begins with a showing of the feature film Sir directed by Rohena Gera (December 6). Gera’s debut film explores the complicated dynamics between a maid and a wealthy heir from Mumbai, challenging stereotypical social class ideals.

Inspired by a true story, a young man must put his dreams of becoming an engineer on hold when his father falls ill in The Lift Boy, (December 7) by Jonathan Augustin. The same evening is a showing of Arjun Mukherjee’s drama Three Storeys (December 7), which traces the unexpectedly complex and mysterious lives of a chawl community of laborers in Mumbai.

December 8 will also bring the Italian film Meditazione con i Beatles (1968), journalist and film producer Furio Colombo’s account of the Beatles’s sojourn in India and their meeting and meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who popularized transcendental meditation  techniques worldwide (6 pm).  Colombo will participate in a question and answer session after the showing.

Akarsh Kurana’s Karwaan will open the evening schedul (8:30 pm) on December 8 with a comedy starring Irrfan Khan that follows a group of friends on a road trip from Bangalore to Kochi.

Additional feature films part of the program include MFanney Khan, (December 8) a remake of the Belgian film Everybody’s Famous, and Mulk, (December 9) which is based on the story of a Hindu attorney who defends a Muslim family antagonized by the community following a terrorist attack.

Lastly, T for Taj Mahal (December 9) tells the adventure of a man who hopes to make his struggling village literate and Chitra (Nude) is a unique narrative of a woman who poses as a nude model in order to pay for her son’s schooling (December 10).

Concluding the festival on December 11 at 8:30 pm is Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan (Husband Material). This upbeat romantic comedy centers around a love triangle.

The short films showing this year include the father-son story of Itwaar (December 7), an animated piece called Everything is Upstream (December 9) and a food-focused short titled Forbidden Tikka Masala (December 9).

Documentaries River to River will exhibit consist of An Engineered Dream (December 7) a coming-of-age story about three teens who face extreme pressure to succeed and Grandir au Ladakh (December 9) following the lives of two sisters in a tiny village.

Two other documentaries that will be presented include Kalachakra: The Enlightenment (December 9), a look into the path to Enlightenment through Tibetan Buddhism, and Purdah (December 10), which reveals the harsh reality of life for three daughters facing poverty, societal expectations, and family issues.

To close the festival, River to River’s 18th birthday party will take place at Amblè (Piazzetta del Bene, 7/A) with music provided by the Pink Panther Bollywood DJ.   (amelia johnson)