River to River Film Festival Florence, Italy - A Festival of films from and about India
By Dr Sunil Deepak, 6 April 2023
The River to River Film Festival (RtoR-FF) connecting the Arno river in Florence, Italy to Ganges in India, is the only Italian film festival dedicated to films from and about India. It was started in 2001 by Selvaggia Velo. For many years, while living in Bologna, which is not very far from Florence, I took active part in this festival, going there to watch films and to interview persons from Indian film industry.
Before the advent of internet, YouTube and OTT platforms, watching Indian films in Italy usually meant watching video-cassettes, LCDs, CDs and DVDs, often pirated and of dubious quality. Thus, in those years, RtoR-FF played a fundamental role in bringing Indian films and personalities to Italy. The initial years of RtoR-FF coincided with the NRI-focused cinema of Yash Chopra, Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar. Shahrukh Khan became hugely popular in Europe in those years. RtoR-FF widened the spectrum of knowledge about different kinds of Indian cinema and the world of Indian documentary film-makers.
Around 2006-07, RAI, the national TV in Italy, started a festival of Bollywood films, which were dubbed in Italian. Italy has a limited culture of watching films in original languages with subtitles and usually all the foreign-language films are released in dubbed version. Popular films of starts like Hrithik Roshan, Abhishekh Bachchan and John Abraham thus reached Italian general public.
Over the past decade, slowly the access to Indian films has been taken over by video-sites such as YouTube and Vimeo and by the different OTT platforms. This also means that RtoR-FF can also be watched through internet.
This part on RtoR-FF presents some interviews and articles which I had written over the past few years.
Films in the River to River Festivals
(1) My favourite short films from River to River Festival, December 2020
River to River Festival Interviews
(1) Amitabh Bachchan Press Conference (RtoR-FF 2012)
(2) Aparna sen Interview (RtoR-FF 2010)
(3) Onir Interview (RtoR-FF 2010)
(4) Rahul Bose Interview (RtoR-FF 2010)