Welcome to Rishikesh International Film Festival 2020!

We are happy to announce our films for 2020. We have selected 38 films for this year’s festival. Many of the films are made by Indian filmmakers or filmed in India by International filmmakers. We have many female film directors and films featuring women, as well as social and ecological awareness films. The films being screened for the I AM LOVING AWARENESS Baba Ram Dass Tribute are truly a beautiful way to celebrate Baba Ram Dass and his life! Thank you to all the filmmakers for contributing their films to Rishikesh International Film Festival. Namaste.


Directors – Jamie Catto and Duncan Bridgeman
I AM LOVING AWARENESS – Baba Ram Dass Tribute – Celebration of Life
March 12 – Selected tracks featuring Ram Dass
March 16 – Selected tracks featuring Revati Sakalkar

1 Giant Leap is a collaborative video project for the 21st century which fuses music, words, sounds, rhythms and images from over 25 locations in 20 countries around the globe to celebrate diversity of musicians, story-tellers, authors, filmmakers, artists, entrepreneurs, artists, and thinkers from many different cultures. 1 Giant Leap is a title, a philosophy, a leap of faith that sprung from the minds of visionary UK musicians/visual artists Jamie Catto (Faithless) and Duncan Bridgeman. Featuring contributions from Dennis Hopper, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Stipe, Robbie Williams, Eddi Reader, Tom Robbins, Brian Eno, Baaba Maal, Speech, Asha Bhosle, Neneh Cherry, Anita Roddick, Michael Franti, Zap Mama, and other artists and authors.

AGNIYOGANA – Lower the Head, Invoke the Fire

Director – Emma Balnaves
March 14

AGNIYOGANA is a meditative inquiry into the lost art of classical Hatha Yoga. Offering an experiential collage of action and stillness, light and darkness, sound and silence, AGNIYOGANA explores the richness of traditional Hatha Yoga teachings and the deeply connected states of heart, mind, and freedom these practices deliver to sincere truth seekers. AGNIYOGANA takes the viewer on a journey through time and space to rediscover the inner dimensions of Hatha Yoga and reconnect the human spirit to the true meaning of “yug,” the connecting root of all yogas.


Director – Jitendra Rai
March 15

Millions of children are engaged in child labour in India, in an increasingly growing number every year. And with that, millions of childhood dreams are never realised as a result of a lack of education. Baitullah is the story of one such child, with a dream, surviving in the maddening metropolis of Mumbai, waiting for someone to notice.


Director – Jamie Catto
I AM LOVING AWARENESS – Baba Ram Dass Tribute – Celebration of Life
March 12

A celebration and deep exploration of Ram Dass, the father of the Western spiritual culture and self-help movement, that pays tribute to his unmissable authenticity and humour. Ram Dass has inspired generations of seekers to be visible and authentic in their fallibility, sacrificing the temptations of superiority and spiritual materialism as a path to true presence and compassion, all without taking themselves too seriously.

Becoming Nobody represents the core arc of Ram Dass’ teachings and life: whether as Dr. Richard Alpert, the eminent Harvard psychologist, or as Ram Dass who serves as a bridge between Eastern and Western philosophies, he has defined a generation of inner explorers and seekers of truth and wisdom. Through his turns as scion of an eminent Jewish family from Boston, rock-star Harvard psychologist, counter-culture rascally adventurer, Eastern holy man, stroke survivor and compassionate caregiver, Ram Dass has worn many hats on his journey, the narrative of which is revealed in this film.


Director – Anna Bohlmark
March 15

“Big Social Nomad” presents the threats elephants are facing in modern India of today. It poses crucial questions of what needs and what can be done to stop this negative trend from happening. It also offers an insight into the complex issue of who land should belong to. India, with all its multidimensional culture, is today the hub for the wild elephants. Though the threat to their survival is apparent, there is also much hope to be found in the country. A hope deeply rooted in Indian society, among people who nurture a profound love for this animal.


Director – VS Sanoj
March 15

‘Burning’ is a conversation between two young mothers brought together by strange and cruel social realities, at a funeral ghat in Varanasi. Facing myriad forms of patriarchal violence, they build an instant bonding and understanding towards each other while trying to strike a bizarre deal they were pushed to negotiate.


Director – Mark Waters
March 15

Director Mark Waters’ visually stunning documentary follows James Sebastiano, a materially successful young man, as he engages in a perpetual battle against anxiety. During this life-changing journey James explores why a person who seemingly has it all, can still suffer from debilitating panic attacks in the hope that he can learn how to finally break free from his crippling anxiety. On a worldwide journey of self discovery from the streets of New York, to the stillness of the Ganges, and deep into the jungles of Peru, he unexpectedly uncovers deep truths about who and what he is.


The Clean Himalaya Project
March 15

In the year 2000, deeply concerned with the waste problem, some students of American spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen at the EnlightenNext Centre in Rishikesh, began picking up plastic bottles themselves on the roadsides. Later they informally organized rag pickers to collect the bottles and other dry waste from local guest houses. Gradually this service grew into a small enterprise under the supervision of one of Andrew’s Indian students, Jitendra Kumar. In 2006 Swami Amritarupananda, a Canadian disciple of Swami Chidananda of The Divine Life Society in Rishikesh, began helping Jitendra with the project and soon became completely involved. With her help a proposal was made to The World Bank India 2007 Development Marketplace Competition for grass roots initiatives for management and protection of Natural Resources. What began as the spontaneous response of a few individuals is now a growing non-profit venture managed by Jitendra Kumar with six hired workers and the help of a growing number of volunteers, serving almost 300 hotels, restaurants, ashrams, shops and households.

DARSHAN – Blessing of Saints

Director – Burt Chojnowski
March 14

Intimate conversations with holy men and women in Rishikesh and Northern India including babas, swami’s and yogis. It includes a visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles visit to Rishikesh to practice Transcendental Meditation.


Director – Marc Baraka
March 13 – Divine Mother Project
March 14 – Experiential Short Films

Divine Mother – The 108 images presented here were done one at a time as a photographic sketch, each day at the end of my meditation sadhana for 108 days.

PARA: Unbounded Stillness in Motion briefly explores the experience of transcendence as a baseline for experiencing the elements, fire, water, earth, air, and space through direct cognition. In sutra-like poetic form, AGNI [fire] explores the power of creation and the might of disruption, its manifestation in our personal hero’s journey and our world. AP [water] is the third of the film series metaphorically using the five elements from a Vedic perspective.


Director – Payal Saxena
March 15

Echoes is a story of two lonely souls, mother and her daughter, finally having a heart to heart conversation, sharing special moments of their lives. It is an intense discussion which takes them on a journey bridging the distance in their relationship. This new found understanding, could it have helped them both fighting with their own demons and fears, in filling that emptiness and dark places? The world can be a lonely and scary place if you have no one to share it with. In the end all that is left is some pieces of memories that are shattered and filled with regrets. The film goes through up and downs and ends tearing your heart as it is just echoes’ of pain within which resounds your entire universe.

EVER SLOW GREEN – Re-Afforestation in Auroville, South India

Director – Christoph Pohl
March 15

50 years ago, a unique afforestation project took root on an eroded desert plateau in Tamil Nadu, South India, when people from diverse countries came together to establish the international experimental township of Auroville. Initially driven by the necessity to make the harsh conditions more liveable, the idealism of some early residents lead them to develop expertise in cultivating the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest, a rare forest type native to the coastal belt of Tamil Nadu.

Today, the lush Auroville forest is an outstanding example of eco-restoration that recreates and preserves a type of tropical forest that is on the verge of extinction. Ever Slow Green tells the story of Auroville’s 50-years-young forest through some of the diverse characters who have dedicated their lives to bringing it to fruition.


Director – Mickey Lemle
I AM LOVING AWARENESS – Baba Ram Dass Tribute – Celebration of Life
March 12

After Richard Alpert was fired from Harvard in 1963 for conducting psychedelic drug research, he journeyed to India, found a guru and was renamed Ram Dass (“Servant of God”). Soon, Ram Dass became a spiritual inspiration to people across the globe. Interspersing archival footage with intimate glimpses of Ram Dass today, RAM DASS FIERCE GRACE is a poignant meditation on hippiedom and spirituality.


Director – R.A. Fedde
March 14

Five Faces of Shiva follows the rise and fall of the popularity of Hindu god lithographs, arguably India’s first mass media. Lithography — a printing technique which allowed for highly detailed and affordable copies of images — allowed people from all walks of life to own their own direct connection to the gods and goddesses they loved. From the complicated backdrop of British colonization which led to coded messages of rebellion hidden in the prints themselves, to rival presses outdoing one another to the point of ruin, to the dramatic mythological stories depicted in the images, the film explores their deep history and religious symbolism. Interviews and on-site experiences with collectors, historians, artists, and devotees help to shape our understanding of these astonishing images. Today, Indian contemporary artists still explore the resonance of these powerful images.

GANGA AARTI – Video Journey to India

Director – Inessa Garder
March 13

Ganga Aarti film tells the story of an unexpected series of paintings made on a journey to India. Suspend everything for this time and leap with me into the world of Art & Adventure. You might find that you have wings.


Director – Chandni Srivastava
March 13

‘Here’ is about discovering our reality by connecting with nature that co exists in a world filled with reveries and illusion. Everything is ‘Here’, we only find what we seek.


Director – Michael Yorke
March 13

The movie is the story of two Hindu ascetic persons (sadhu). Uma is a Swedish woman, and Vasisth Giri, an Indian man. Together, they go on a pilgrimage of self-discovery into the Himalaya Mountains, towards the springs of River Ganges, in pursuit of Hindu saints and mystics. During their journey, they meet a sadhu who has not spoken a word for twelve years. They sleep in caves and huts of the ascetics. After twenty-seven years of searching, Uma finally finds her spiritual mentor she has been looking for all her life.


Director – Xiwen Zhang
March 13

This documentary is about the daily life of Tibetan,Their devotion and persistence for faith,Their innocence and kindness,hope to Restore a real Tibet.


Director – Praveen K. Chaturvedi
March 14

One of the oldest and greatest traditions of our country and culture has been the tradition of Guru-Shishya Parampara. The enlightened Guru not only awakens the consciousness of his disciple to make him divinely aware but also passes to his disciple, the wisdom, traditional knowledge, and science, that he mastered in his lineage. And hence the legacy goes on. This tradition ensured that knowledge is preserved through millenniums. And hence we saw the greatest of Rishis, Saints, Yogis, Naths and Siddhas walking the earth of our illustrious country disseminating timeless knowledge and wisdom to the masses and inspiring generations.

However, recent times brought a paradigm shift in this. With this rich tradition slowly fading and people becoming oblivious about the importance of having a Sadhguru in the maze of the modern materialistic world where people are caught up in the vicious cycle of Cause and Effect – the law of Karma. This project, ‘In Search of A Guru’ is a journey into the lives of the great Gurus who were torchbearers of this illustrious tradition and who inspired hundreds and thousands on the path of awakening. Also, while exploring the meadows of the vast wisdom, this film tries to answer the question – “Who is a real Guru?”


Director – V. Owen Bush
I AM LOVING AWARENESS – Baba Ram Dass Tribute – Celebration of Life
March 12

This short film is a 40th anniversary companion piece to Ram Dass’ spiritual classic Be Here Now, tracing Ram Dass’ journey from Be Here Now to Be Love Now. The film examines ego, awareness, truth and love as Ram Dass revisits his personal voyage of transformation.


Love Serve Remember Foundation
I AM LOVING AWARENESS – Baba Ram Dass Tribute – Celebration of Life
March 12

Re-mastered footage of Ram Dass’ Beloved Guru, Maharajji. Love Serve Remember Foundation hand-picked this footage of Neem Karoli Babaji from their archives for our celebration of Ram Dass, with kirtan with Krishna Das and Jai Uttal.

MANTRA – Sounds into Silence

Director – Georgia Wyss
March 16

Mantra — Sounds into Silence is a feature-length documentary that explores the musical and social phenomenon of chant and response meditation. With music and Performances from Deva Premal & Miten with Manose, Krishna Das, Snatam Kaur, Jai Uttal, MC Yogi, Dave Stringer, Lama Gyurme & Jean-Philippe Rykiel, C.C. White, Mirabai Ceiba, Gaura Vani, Nina Rao, Charlie Braun & Others

ONE TRACK HEART – The Story of Krishna Das

Director – Jeremy Frindel
I AM LOVING AWARENESS – Baba Ram Dass Tribute – Celebration of Life
March 12

In 1970, Jeffrey Kagel walked away from the American dream of rock ‘n’ roll stardom, turning down the chance to record as lead singer for the band soon-to-be the Blue Oyster Cult. Instead, he sold all his possessions and moved from the suburbs of Long Island to the foothills of the Himalayas in search of happiness and a little-known saint named Neem Karoli Baba. ONE TRACK HEART: THE STORY OF KRISHNA DAS follows his journey to India and back, witnessing his struggles with depression and drug abuse, to his eventual emergence as Krishna Das, world-renowned spiritual teacher and Grammy nominated chant master. Featuring interviews with Ram Dass (LSD Icon Richard Alpert), Rick Rubin (Grammy Award winning Producer), Sharon Salzberg (NY Times bestselling author), Daniel Goleman (two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee), and many others. Musical score by J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr) & Devadas.

Postcards from India – A Busker’s Adventure

Director – Tommaso Dolcetta
March 16

From the Rajasthan desert to the big city of Kolkata, reggae-loving busker Filippo Masé, a.k.a. ‘Miserable Man’, crosses paths with many characters: fellow musicians, spiritual seekers and street kids. From the origins of Masé’s ‘Miserable Man’ persona in the bitter chill of a European winter, Postcards follows the musician’s return to India — where he’s previously spent several years — and observes contrasting elements of Indian society: contemporary and traditional, East and West, ethics and aesthetics.


Directors – Jane Dyson and Ross Harrison
March 16

When Saraswati arrives as the first educated daughter-in-law in a Himalayan village, she wonders how she will ever feel at home. But faced with the scepticism of an older generation of women, she grows determined to succeed. As the village’s ten-day Pandav Lila festival approaches, the film offers a window onto the everyday work and spiritual practices that bind people to each other and the land. An intimate story of longing and belonging in India’s sacred mountains, ‘Spirit’ explores what it takes to make a home in a remote community in the thralls of change.


Director – Rob Greenfield
March 15

Zero Waste, The 5 R’s, Composting. Follow Rob Greenfield’s bike ride across the USA practicing sustainable living to the extreme. You’ll learn how you can be a part of the solution and live sustainably. This episode documents Rob’s efforts to cross the country eating creating almost zero waste. The average american creates 4.5 pounds of trash per day and he created just 2 pounds the entire summer. That’s 200 times less trash than the average American. Along with inspiration you’ll learn what you need to know to live a near zero waste life including the 5 R’s, composting, and many other tips to go zero waste. Plus you’ll learn about the impact of stuff being created, the process what happens to trash once it’s in your trash can or recycle bin, and litter in the environment.


Director – Tara Douglas
March 15

The Film travels to different locations in Central and North East India to discover the context for the folktales and cultures that inspired the Tales of the Tribes animated series to shed light on the role of storytelling in these traditional societies. Tales of the Tribes: Animation as a Tool for Indigenous Representation practice-led research produced a new collection of short animation films made in collaboration with indigenous communities in India.


Director – Naveed Mulki
March 14

Kalaripayattu is the most ancient martial art in the world. It was once a way of life in the quiet coastline of India. It remained the backbone of the society there for a thousand years till the British empire came along and banned the martial art as it viewed it as a threat. They systematically broke down every practice of the art and would have succeeded in completely destroying it, if it wasn’t for the efforts of a few Kalaripayattu masters. These masters secretly kept alive their traditions in little pockets and practiced it for many years and generations in the dark. When India gained its independence from the British empire, Kalaripayattu finally had its chance to find its way back into society.


Director – Vijeta Sharma
March 14

From the time immemorial, Himalayas are considered to be the birthplace of yoga. This is a story of a regular mountain boy Rajat Thakur transforming into Himalayan yogi. “A tribute to all my gurus and all the saints & sages who walked the Yogic path and left behind their divinity for mankind.” – Rajat Thakur


Directors – Sej Saraiya and Pavel Safonov
March 13

A great deal of contemporary society has a very unhealthy relationship with silence. People fear silence more than anything else, often rushing to fill the space with meaningless entities so that they are no longer uncomfortable. Eastern traditions of Tao, Tantra and Zen Buddhism highly revere “मौन” (mauna), or silence, as the Language of Gods, the living force leading to the peaceful unmoving state of self. In the East, silence is an essential part of existence. Shot in cinéma vérité, this poetic film depicts “Ishin-Denshin” or communication through the heart without use of words between two people and invites you to find repose in this instrument of discomfort.


Director – ‎Yahor Jeihalo
March 16

“I gaze upon form with my physical eye because there is in form the trace of the Spirit. This is the world of form and we live in forms; the Spirit can not be seen save by means of form”- Awhadi Kirmani

Cinematography – Yahor Jeihalo; Assistant Director – Chris Long; Music by Max Rishter. Film in Rishikesh, India in December 2019.


Director – Neelabh Bafna
March 15

Sandhya is the daughter of a sex worker from Asia’s biggest red-light district, in Mumbai. She was denied education in her own country and bullied, because of her background and color. She fights for her dreams against all odds. Will she get the education she deserves?

What About Me?

Directors – Jamie Catto and Duncan Bridgeman
I AM LOVING AWARENESS – Baba Ram Dass Tribute – Celebration of Life
March 12 – Selected tracks featuring Ram Dass

What About Me? is an inspiring and alarming look at our collective insanity: how we are ego-driven, needy in relationships, insatiable in desire, addicted to status, wounded by childhood and unable to stop thinking, but how we still manage to be inspired and creative. The backbone of the project is the music that One Giant Leap make. They start with pre-composed backing tracks in a laptop studio. The music grows as each layer is added, seamlessly mixing international stars like Alanis Morissette, KD Lang and Michael Franti, with Bedouin Musicians, Chinese rappers, Gabonese Pygmies, Tuvan throat singers, Egyptian folk musicians, Japanese taiko drummers, and also the royalty of today’s world music scene including Baaba Maal, Lila Downs, Rokia Traore, Oumou Sangare, Zap Mama, all expanding on the same One Giant Leap musical vision. While Duncan & Jamie sought out wisdom from the likes of Noam Chomsky, Eckhart Tolle & Stephen Fry and the cream of the worlds thinkers, writers, and entertainers they also met many people just getting on with their lives – gravediggers, taxi drivers, brain surgeon’s, street kids. Unscripted, with no storyboard, these conversations all reveal how we are connected not only through our creativity and our beliefs but most of all through our madness!


Director – Disha Arora
March 13

Women and Religion in India is a journey of one woman across the country to create a dialogue about the weakening of women’s rights under the guise of religion. This documentary is an attempt to capture the current day practices of all the major religions in different parts of India with an aim to understand what position and rights do women enjoy. Some of the issues covered in the documentary include discriminatory practices in different religions in India; Menstruation and Purity; the impact of growing religious fundamentalism on women’s rights; women as religious leaders; and women’s entry in religious places.