Gianfranco Rosi • Italy • 1993
The Ganges River is one of India’s most sacred waterways, providing drinking water to the nation’s populace and irrigating fields of grain and vegetables. A source of renewal, it is also the final resting place for many, whose remains are burned on funeral pyres then sent downstream. A lone boatman floats, too, down the river, encountering tourists and Indians alike, sharing in their stories, joys and sorrows with calm detachment.
An immersive, meandering portrait of life and death on the Ganges, Boatman gains accumulative power from simple human interactions and the placidity of its unassuming protagonist. Celebrated filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi's first film premiered at Sundance, IDFA - Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, and Vienna.