Director: Gianfranco Rosi

Institute History

  • 1994 Sundance Film Festival


Flowing from the hair of Shiva, the Ganges is the sacred river of the Hindu, and perhaps nowhere is the fiver more holy than at Benares, where it is very much the river of fife and of the dead. Not only Indians but pilgrims the world over come to immerse themselves in the Ganges, and every day hundreds of bodies are cremated by its banks or sunk into its depths. Gianfranco Rosi, the young film artist, sketches an elegantly observed, riparian portrait of people, ceremonies, and businesses, both licit and Illicit The film, composed of small gestures and serendipitous encounters, is photographed in a contemplative black and white that constantly tempts the viewer's eye to give the images color; it is an invitation that is both wise and exciting.

Boatman is not a traditional documentary: the omnipresent narrator is absent (there is god aplenty in this film), but there is a profound sense of place, unique and dramatic, and there is a special figure, Gopal the talkative boatman, who gives this very human film a loose coherence. Boatman is a most impressive debut feature, one that will linger and enrich our memory.

Friday Jan 21 1:40 pm
Holiday Village Cinema III

Tuesday Jan 25 4:00 pm
Holiday Village Cinema I

Thursday Jan 27 10:40 am
Holiday Village Cinema III

Friday Jan 28 1:00 pm
Holiday Village Cinema I


— Laurence Kardish

Screening Details


As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]