Exclusive preview of River to River Indian Film Festival 2015
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Exclusive preview of River to River Indian Film Festival 2015

Thu 01 Oct 2015 12:00 AM



The 15th annual edition of the Florence River to River Indian Film Festival will take place from December 5-10, 2015. To make it even better than usual, the Festival has launched a crowdfunding on Indiegogo, allowing film buffs to reserve their tickets now and get some cool gifts in exchange for support. We met up with festival director Selvaggia Velo as the crowdfunding passed the 60% mark towards its €15,000, to ask her what to expect in the 2015.


The Florentine: You founded and have been directing this film festival for 15 years straight! What is your connection to India and how come you were inspired to bring Indian film to Florence?


Selvaggia Velo: My love story with India starts many years ago. I began in 1998 organising an exhibition of Indian movie banners (enormous: 6×3 metres each!) in Florence. In 1999 for Estate Fiorentina I curated a live show of the Indian artists behind those movie banners shown the year before: in 1999 they painted interpretations of Italian movies with their kitschy and unique style, in front of the audience of the summer venue Le Murate. This was a great success, and it was the beginning of everything.

In 2001 I organized the first edition of the River to River Florence Indian Film Festival, that took place in the beautiful Teatrino del Rondò di Bacco of the Palazzo Pitti, and it was a success.

I liked the idea of the flowing of water, that can represent also the flowing of different cultures one towards the other, so I thought of River to River as the main title of the festival: from the Arno to the Ganges.


TF:  What is the coolest thing that has ever happened at the River to River festival in Florence?


SV: During the first edition the staff and I received flowers with an anonymous “thank you” card: we still don’t know who sent it.

Another cool thing was having the super Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan say on the stage of Odeon theatre – the venue were now the festival takes place – that he felt at home in Florence, as you can see in this small video.


TF: Why have you turned to crowdfunding for this edition?


SV: The economic situation is complicated and finding sponsors gets harder every year. We love India and its cinema and we want this festival to keep on bringing India to Florence and propose to our lovely audience the best of Indian movies every year. For this reason we have joined up and launched this campaign, also asking for the support of all those who love India and cinema, making them become part of the River to River gang!


TF: The lineup of films for this edition has not yet been announced, but you’ve agreed to give The Florentine an exclusive preview… so, what’s the most important Indian film you’re bringing to Florence this year?


SV: The lineup is super secret…but we can give you a few tips!

We are inaugurating a new important collaboration with the prestigious Cineteca di Bologna, where we will screen “the best of” River to River in January 2016.


We will also have a new section of video art, that this year will be curated by the Kochi-Muziris Biennale of Art.


Furthermore, we will be honouring the great Italian writer, poet, intellectual and director Pier Paolo Pasolini, on the occasion of 40 years from his death. We will be screening his beautiful Appunti per un film per l’India (1967-1968) half an hour video where he shoots and tells us about his impressions on India.


We will also be hosting an amazing photography exhibition on the occasion of our 15th anniversary… and a super guest star that we will announce very soon!


TF: What other aspects of Indian films can festival participants enjoy in the 15th edition? We hear there will be samosas…


SV: Yes! There will be samosas, pakoras, and warm chai, as well as chicken tandoori and vegetarian cuisine. All this will be possible during the festival days, at the venue!


Of course the festival will also host interesting Q&A sessions with the directors and actors of the films, where the audience can participate and ask questions.

And we will also have morning talks on different subjects in and around India, of course!


From that first year, when I decided to put together my passion for India and for cinema, time has passed and many festival editions have taken place. Now the festival is a “teenager” and will celebrate its 15th year of life: you are all welcome to celebrate with us this special birthday and of course …#getrivered!



Excited about keeping Florence international through this film festival and similar initiatives? Donate on Indiegogo and help R2R reach its $15,000 goal November 5th to ensure that we will be able to continue to enjoy this festival in years to come.

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