Welcome to Rishikesh International Film Festival 2019!

WHERE THE RIVER BEGINS – The Kids of Ramana’s Garden

ALMA Multimedios
March 12 @ 12pm
Q&A with Prabhavati Dwabha

Featuring – Prabhavati Dwabha, Founder & Director at Ramana’s Garden Orphanage, School, and Organic Cafe. Where the River Begins is a documentary project made as a service for Ramana’s Garden orphanage school, located in Rishikesh, Northern India. Ramana’s Garden’s vision is that every child in India, regardless of caste, creed, or social-economic background, has the right to quality education, proper nutrition, and primary healthcare. It is our further intention to empower Indian women through literacy and vocational training so that they can generate their own income and thereby gain rights in their own households and communities.

MANTRA –  Sounds into Silence

Director – Georgia Wyss
March 12 @ 6pm
** Indian Premiere **

MANTRA – Sounds into Silence is a film about the growing phenomenon of Mantra music and Kirtan. Through revealing interviews with the artists, who have sparked off this new musical movement, we will find out what inspired them on their paths and how this influenced their music which is reaching out to so many people. Then we will learn about the music’s transformative effects through those people whose lives have been transformed by the practice. The talented artists who contributed to the production, many of whom appear in the film: Deva Premal & Miten with Manose, Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Snatam Kaur, Venerable Lama Gyurme, MC Yogi, Gaura Vani, C.c. White, Mirabai Ceiba, Dave DC Stringer, Nina Rao, Kirtaniyas, Jean-Philippe Rykiel, Wah!, Brenda McMorrow, Donna De Donna Eve De Lory, Lulu and Mischka, Charlie Braun, Guru Ganesha, Sarvajaya Gauranga Dasa, Deep Deka, Bittu Malick, Ravi Ramoneda – RAVI RAM, Manu Om, MuOM, Satyaa and Pari, Shaman Laika (Raffa Martínez), Jahnavi Harrison, and Karnamrita Dasi.


March 12 @ 8pm

Producer Jahnava Hausner and award-winning filmmaker Hilary Tapper take viewers on an extraordinary journey into the lives of historical and modern devotees of bhakti yoga in this groundbreaking film. Women of Bhakti, shot in India and America, is an artistic and entertaining film that gives viewers an enlightening understanding of the bhakti, or devotional, tradition and its relation to modern yoga practice. Yoginis, swamis, and scholars share their valuable knowledge, wisdom and experience of bhakti, and in doing so they guide us into the temple of our hearts where the natural inspiration for service, truth and love reside. Notable figures include: Radhanatha Swami, Shiva Rea, Sara Ivanhoe, Shyam Das, The Mayapuris, Gauravani, Sharon Gannon, and Dana Flynn.

ONE TRACK HEART – The Story of Krishna Das

Director – Jeremy Frindel
March 12 @ 8:30pm

ONE TRACK HEART – The Story of Krishna Das follows Kagel’s journey to India and back, his struggles with depression and drug abuse, and his eventual emergence as Krishna Das—the world-renowned spiritual teacher, chant master and Grammy-nominated recording artist. Featuring interviews with Be Here Now author and spiritual guru Ram Dass, Grammy-winning producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Metallica, Johnny Cash),New York Times bestselling author Sharon Salzberg, and two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee Daniel Goleman, as well as a score by Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis and Devadas, One Track Heart is the inspiring story of how one man’s journey continues to transform countless lives.


Director – Andrea Christina Furrer
March 13 @ 5pm

Emily doesn‘t like school. She prefers to be in the forest, by the river where the water is loud. There she meets a boy who understands her. Together they travel – a spiritual journey begins! Music by Estás Tonné and Istvan Sky. International recognition – Festival de Cannes, France, Cinekid Amsterdam, Netherlands, International Children Filmfestival Bangladesh, International Nature Film Festival Gödöllö, Hungary, Bueu international Short Film Festival, Spain.


Director – Adam Schomer
March 13 @ 5:30
Featured Healer Q&A with Dianne Porchia

Featuring Deepak Chopra, Bruce Lipton, Marianne Williamson, Michael Beckwith, Gregg Braden, Anita Moorjani, Anthony William the Medical Medium, and more. Director Kelly Noonan Gores’ documentary takes us on a scientific and spiritual journey where we discover that our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions have a huge impact on our health and ability to heal. The latest science reveals that we are not victims of unchangeable genes, nor should we buy into a scary prognosis. The fact is we have more control over our health and life than we have been taught to believe. This film will empower you with a new understanding of the miraculous nature of the human body and the extraordinary healer within us all.


Director – Saraswathi Balgam
March 13 @ 7:45pm
Screened with SISYA – The Disciple

Saraswathi Balgam (aka Vani), is a self taught photographer, painter and filmmaker. Born in India and being an ardent global traveler gave her the ability to see things differently. Her motivation is to seek beyond what is visible, to look beyond the image, to find the light and to photograph the spirit of joy in all aspects of nature. In this film, she presents “dha”.

SISYA – The Disciple

Director – Saraswathi Balgam
March 13 @ 7:45pm
Director Q&A with Saraswathi Balgam

25 years ago, Tanja Stiefenhofer, a teenager from Germany, came to India searching for a true path to self-realization. High up in the remote Indian Himalayas, in a gorgeous and intensely spiritual place called Kalishila, Tanja met a reclusive 90 year old yogi who has dedicated over 45 years of his life to performing ancient rituals worshiping the Goddess Mother Kali. Follow her journey seeking the path of truth, and witness her transformation from Tanja into Saraswati giri under the guidance of her revered Guru.

Story about Amma

Director – Shekhar Kapur
March 13 @ 9pm

Renowned director and artist Shekhar Kapur focuses on Sri Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) in this new documentary, investigating the source of human compassion and creativity. Includes a rare lengthy private interview with Amma, as well as interviews with Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Leland Hartwell and many others about Amma’s unique approach to life and how Amma’s love has touched, and in many cases, transformed their lives.


Director – Jeremy Frindel
March 14 @ 5pm

THE DOCTOR FROM INDIA is a meditative and immersive portrait of the life and work of Dr. Vasant Lad, the holistic health pioneer who first brought the ancient medical practice of Ayurveda from India to the west in the late 1970s. Integrating his gifts as both a healer and a mystic, Dr. Lad has dedicated his life to sharing what is considered the oldest healthcare system on earth in the complex medical landscape of the United States. This is the beautiful and inspiring story of a man who has for decades been quietly at the center of a revolutionary movement to change the way we care for our bodies and our spirits. Directed by Jeremy Frindel (One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das) with an elegant musical score by Rachel Grimes, and featuring Deepak Chopra, Robert Svoboda, David Frawley, and Claudia Welch.

ON YOGA – The Architecture of Peace

Director – Hector Dhalia
Photographer – Michael O’Neill
March 14 @ 6:30pm
Q&A with Uma Giri Ji

ON YOGA: The Architecture of Peace is director Heitor Dhalia’s new film and his first documentary, it follows photographer Michael O’Neill as he talks to the great Yoga masters in India, Tibet and New York.


Director & Producer – Praveen Chaturvedi
March 14 @ 8:30pm
Director Q&A with Praveen Chaturvedi

Moonlight Pictures created one of the most iconic cultural documentaries of India with country’s leading media group Jagran Prakashan. The project has grown into a international phenomena of sorts, with praise pouring from all the world.

“Subah-e-Banaras is the natural splendour of morning, and the Banarasi way of life, coming together in a splendid coincidence. People don’t come here expecting pleasures, but they come in hope of finding bliss.”

Mooji – An Invitation to Freedom

Specially selected for RIFF 2019
March 15 @ 2pm

Mooji – An Invitation to Freedom


Anand Mehrotra
March 15 @ 5pm


Director – Adam Schomer
March 15 @ 6pm
Satsang / Q&A with Yogi Anand Mehrotra

Part heart-pounding adventure, part spiritual quest, THE HIGHEST PASS, premiered its theatrical release in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s theatres to sold out audiences. The award-winning film shares the journey of seven seekers who follow a guru with a Vedic death prophecy on a motorcycle trip up to the highest pass of the Indian Himalayas. The young guru, Anand Mehrotra, takes us on a motorcycle journey that will begin in Rishikesh, India, the birthplace of yoga, and will end in the high mountain region of Ladakh. Adam Schomer accepts the challenge, even though he’s never ridden a motorcycle and joins Mehrotra, who at twenty-seven bears a prophecy that he will die in an accident before the age of thirty. Five men and one woman join this expedition that will take them 2000 km over some of the most dangerous roads in the world where they ultimately climb over the highest motorable mountain pass en route to facing death. “Only the one who dies, truly lives.” Over 21 days and up to an elevation of 18,000 feet along a winding road, they never let low oxygen, altitude sickness, river-flooded roads, icy edges, snow and loaded trucks dampen their spirits or, ultimately, their deeper selves.

AWAKE – The Life of Yogananda

Directors – Paola di Florio and Lisa Leeman
March 15 @ 8:30pm

Unique biopic about Yogananda, telling the story of his life and influence on yoga, religion and science, combining re-enactment, interviews, and verité. The film includes interviews with disciples of Paramahansa Yogananda, as well as with Ravi Shankar, George Harrison, Krishna Das, and others. “AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda is an unconventional biography about an Indian Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. This feature documentary explores the life and teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, who authored the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, which has sold millions of copies worldwide and is a go-to book for seekers, philosophers and yoga enthusiasts today. It was the only book that Steve Jobs had on his iPad, and he arranged to give away 800 copies of it to the dignitaries who attended his memorial service. It was also a point of entry into Eastern mysticism for George Harrison, Russell Simmons and countless yogis. By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient teachings accessible to a modern audience, attracting many followers and ultimately helping millions of seekers today to turn their attention inwards, bucking the temptations of the material world in pursuit of self-realization.” – Rotten Tomatoes


Director – Yakima Waner
March 16 @ 11am-1pm
with other short films

When Janisha Marchal walks through the forest surrounding her home in Kullu, the forest talks to her; in return, she listens. Janisha, at just five years old, is a prime example of the power of women as protectors of nature. Janisha was born with a nerve disorder known as Erb’s palsy, which has rendered her right arm immobile; this doesn’t stop her from becoming an ambassador, a teacher and a mentor for an entire generation of protectors and activists. To Wake – Buddhi is a touching portrayal of an incredibly special young girl and her quest to save the forest she loves.


Director – Brian Nager
March 16 @ 11am-1pm
with other short films

World Renowned Indian Lawyer and Environmental Activist, M.C. Mehta, and Himalayan Master, Sri Svami Purna Maharaj, speak about how on one hand we worship the Ganga and Himalaya and on the other hand we pollute. This needs to stop. In order to protect the beautiful living heritage of spiritual practitioners seeking refuge and connection at the Lap of Mother Ganga, we must strive to protect Her as She strives to protect us. It is in the hands of the people to wake up protect Mother Ganga and the Himalayas. They are our refuge, our souls home.


Director – Judit Algueró
March 16 @ 11am-1pm
with other short films

Six women from rural Andhra Pradesh, India, share how they defied their destiny. A doctor, a university student, an entrepreneur, a graduate, a woman with disability and a farmer tell us their stories of personal growth. Producer: Rural Development Trust is an NGO working on the empowerment of rural communities in India in their struggle to eradicate poverty and injustice. Founded in 1969, the organisation implements integrated development programme in Anantapur, Kurnool districts and the Srisailam forest area in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.


Director – Deepa Adhicari
March 16 @ 11am-1pm
with other short films

The tracts of India that face the acutest developmental challenges, and, at the same time, bear the greatest burden of the country’s aggressive developmental excesses, are regions where its indigenous people live. We bring you, through this film, representative voices of thousands of tribal people belonging to over 100 tribal groups who came together in the 2017 edition — to workshop, brainstorm, learn from and interact with change-makers, and train in social, entrepreneurial and professional leadership.The display of tribal ideas and culture at Samvaad is a proclamation of identity, a call for rights to land ownership and self-governance, and an assertion of the richness of knowledge and life systems, which are based on kindness and moderation in relation to all sentient beings and Nature.


Yoga Around the World
March 16 @ 11am-1pm
with other short films

Stunning aerial view of Rishikesh. Won BEST DRONE VIDEO at RIFF 2018!


Director – Ida Cuéllar
March 16 @ 1:30-4pm
with MASTER CLASS – The Path to the Unknown: Creative Process in Film

In the early nineties, Dr. Jacobo Grinberg’s career was blooming and he gained lots of international credit as a researcher in the fields of telepathy and neurophysiology at the Universidad Autónoma of México. When Dr. Grinberg mysteriously disappears in 1994, the police find no trace of him. The only thing that is clear, is that all his research material, including his computers, disappeared along with him. Holding the scientific key to telepathy and mystical cures, Grinberg became a valuable asset in many contexts. For that reason, some claim that American governmental forces captured Jacobo and put him to work for them. Some say that his second wife was involved in his disappearance, alleging that she is not the person she claims to be.

With the support of the Embassy of Spain in India and Instituto Cervantes New Delhi.


Director – Marga Laube
March 16 @ 4-6:30pm
with other films

Wave Hands Like Clouds is a poetic exploration of the breathtakingly beautiful endeavor of highlining, and the metaphor that highlining presents for living well.


Director – David Lynch
March 16 @ 4-6:30pm
with other films

This documentary is an exhilarating, inspiring round-up of questions and answers from David Lynch’s European and Middle East tours of 2007-2009, when he visited 16 countries to meet film students, receive national awards, launch university projects, and describe the extraordinary benefits for creativity and peace to be gained by transcending thought with Transcendental Meditation, introduced to the world by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.


Director – Austin Lynch
Producer – Case Simmons
March 16 @ 4-6:30pm

Designer Stella McCartney has teamed up with David Lynch and his son, Austin Lynch, on a new short filmed called Curtain’s Up. Created with Tête-à-Tête—the Los Angeles-based creative studio helmed by Austin and artist Case Simmons—the film features David Lynch as he narrates the relationship between filmmaking and transcendental meditation. Stella McCartney, BØRNS, Lola Kirke, Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders, electronic artist SKY H1, and others also make an appearance in the short. Throughout the film, an eclectic cast of cameos and creative talents make appearances (including McCartney herself) in order to highlight the benefits of transcendental meditation in addressing trauma and the epidemic of toxic stress. The collaboration was created in support of the works of the David Lynch Foundation, whose aim is to prevent these issues from further spreading.


Director – Marc Baraka Strauch
March 16 @ 4-6:30pm
with other films

AGNI explores in a sutra-like poetic form, the power of creation and the might of disruption; its manifestation in our personal hero’s journey and in our world. AGNI is the second of six short films based on the five elements from a Vedic perspective; the first short film briefly explored the experience of transcendence as a baseline for fire, water, earth, air, and space.