Contemporary India is in the spotlight this week with the launch of River to River Florence Indian Film Festival, now in its 16th edition. Headquartered at the newly restored La Compagnia theatre (via Cavour 50r), the festival showcases the breadth and depth of India’s film industry, from independent documentaries to some of Bollywood’s biggest names.
25 films are on the program this year and 10 international guests will be present, including Kabir Bedi, best known in Italy for his starring role as a charismatic pirate in the 1970s television show Sandokan. A six-part series directed by Sergio Sollima, the kitsch favorite established Bedi as a cross-continental star. River to River will pay tribute to Bedi’s Sandokan period with screenings of all six episodes (December 4–8); the star will be present at the first two (December 4, 3pm).
Bedi will also attend the Italian premiere of his latest film, Mohenjo Daro, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker (December 4, 8.30pm). An epic romance and Bollywood blockbuster, set against the backdrop of the ancient Indus Valley, the film will demonstrate Bedi’s versatility to a crowd accustomed to his role as a prince-turned-pirate-captain. Beyond Sandokan, he has starred in over 60 films and made cameo appearances in TV classics from Murder She Wrote to Magnum P.I.
The festival shifts gears with Shefali Bhushan’s romantic comedy Jugni – Firefly (8.30pm, December 5), which will officially launch a thematic series on the changing roles of women in India. This opening film explores the topic through the story of young artist Vibhavari, who sets out to make a name for herself in the music world. Another highlight will be the finale Parched (8.30pm, December 8), presented by one of its lead actresses, Radhika Apte. Set in the vibrant Rajasthan, the film tells the intersecting tales of four women wrestling with the politics of identity in a male-centric society.
Festivalgoers can further their understanding of India today through Fondazione Studio Marangoni’s photography exhibition Concrete Flowers (December 3–January 31, with Christmas closure from December 22–January 10). Showcasing a series of images by Francesca Manolino, the free-entry exhibition dissects the duality present in today’s India—some of the most emblematic photographs depict vibrant markets set against stark concrete or stern-faced men clutching soft, colorful flowers. Studio Marangoni’s gallery is open Monday to Saturday from 3–7pm, or by appointment (tel. 055481106).
For the full River to River program, see the official website.