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The 17th River to River Florence Indian Film Festival ended in Florence yesterday. The winners and ‘best of’ at Spazio Oberdan in Milan, from February 2nd to 4th, 2018

December 19, 2017 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

The winners of the 17th River to River Indian Film Festival are the rights of Indian women and LGBT community. “My pure Land” by Sarmad Masud, an all-female western about women’s rights inspired by real life events occurred in rural Pakistan, British Oscar nomination 2018, won the River to River Award as best feature film at Cinema La Compagnia in Florence, during the closing night of the 17th River to River Florence Indian Film Festival, Italy’s only festival all focussed on Indian movies, directed by Selvaggia Velo.

The plot revolves around a young, assertive and tough woman, Nazo, who with her mother and sister is called to defend her home from a gang of armed men hired by her aunt, who, after a harsh family feud, wants to get back the land. The film, never shown in Italy before, was introduced at the River to River Festival by its star, Suhaee Abro, who, yesterday, in her video message with the film director, Masud, thanked the audience for the award and the Festival for its warm welcome. “For us, in Pakistan, everything is a matter of survival. But we still move on – Suhaee Abro explains –, despite the huge burden of family, despite the weight of traditions and education, not to mention gender relations. Now – Abro goes on – the new generations are looking for a better, freer, less restrained life. They look ahead, they want to travel, study, change the rules, even if the process is slow and ridden with obstacles”.

The audience voted for “Abu – Father” by Arshad Khan as best documentary, an autobiographic film that tells what it means to be raised in a very strict Indian Muslim family, first emigrated to Pakistan then to Canada, when you have to reckon with your homosexuality and post-9/11 tensions. The documentary deals with all these issues through a process of reconciliation with the father figure. Khan said: “Thanks for your warm welcome to Florence. Life challenges everyone and of course when you are at a junction of identities – being Pakistani, Muslim, gay and a migrant – it can be even tougher. It is up to us to try to overcome obstacles. Abu means father, and, even if my film is autobiographic, it actually deals with connections, forgiveness and the human condition, a universal message that goes beyond any boundary”.

Lastly, the award for best short film went to “Kajal” by Paakhi Tyrewala, a story about a woman’s journey to emancipation from her husband, from her boss, from a male-dominated world.

The winning films and a selection of the year’s “Best Of” will be screened at Spazio Oberdan in Milan, from February 2nd to 4th, 2018.

Over six days, from December 7th to 12th, the River to River Florence Indian Film Festival screened twenty-five films, including world, European and Italian premieres. The programme included 40 side events, such as films, photo exhibitions, meetings with actors, cooking classes and experimental shows. The Festival welcomed international guests, such as Onir, a cult director and the first to address lgbt rights in India, who came to introduce the Italian preview of his “Shab – The Night”, and renowned director Hansal Metha with his “Omertà”, the film selected for the last night of the festival, a biopic about international terrorism told through the story of Indo-British terrorist Omar Sheikh, an Islamic extremist who committed dreadful crimes, including the murder of Wall Street journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.

The River to River Florence Indian Film Festival is created and directed by Selvaggia Velo; it is under the patronage of the Indian Embassy, under the aegis of Fondazione Sistema Toscana, supported by the Regional Authorities, Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze and the Indian National Tourist Office in Milan. The Festival is sponsored by Salvatore Ferragamo, Instyle, Air India, Hotel Roma, Baiana Tour Operator, Pensione Canada, while partners include Fondazione Studio Marangoni, Pocket Films, Amblè, Barone Ricasoli, Cescot Firenze, Indian Association of North Italy, Buh!, Royal India, as well as Firenze Spettacolo and Rdf as media partners.

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