India Film Festival starts this week as part of URI Honors Colloquium

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1956 Cannes Film Festival winner highlights opening weekend

KINGSTON, R.I. – Sept. 22, 2009 – According to legend, Satyjit Ray had never directed a scene before taking on Pather Panchali in 1955. With an inexperienced cast and crew and a paltry budget, Ray churned out a film that in 2005 Time Magazine rated among the best 100 films of all time.

On Friday, Sept. 25, Pather Panchali will be screened as part of the India Film Festival, a three-part series of films from India that will be screened at the University of Rhode Island over the next three months. The film series is part of the University’s 2009 Honors Colloquium, Demystifying India. Pather Panchali will be shown in the Swan Hall Auditorium on Friday (6 p.m.).

The first weekend of films in the series features colonial and classical era films from India, starting with Pather Panchali. Translated to Saga of the Road in English, Pather Panchali is adapted from the novel of Bengali writer B.B. Bandopaddhyay. In his directoral debut, Ray interpreted the relationship of a young Bengali boy and his family in his film, which won the Jury Prize at the 1956 Cannes Film festival.

“India is the largest movie producing nation in the world, and Indian film reflects the enormously rich and varied cultures and viewpoints that make up India itself,” said Rebecca Romanow of the URI Film Studies Program, who organized the festival. “While film production began in India as early as 1896, largely as a by-product of the British colonialist presence, with independence in 1947, Indian cinema emerged as an expression of nationalism, with early influences of historical Indian and Sanskrit epics.

“This developed into the hugely popular Hindi film and the emergence of Bollywood, and has been further expanded and changed by regional cinemas, including the independent cinemas of Bengal, Tamil, and Kashmir among others. India is the largest democracy in the world, and Indian cinema surely reflects an incredibly wide range of film experiences. We are hoping to give our film festival viewers a taste of that extraordinary experience.”

The second part of the series will focus on women in Indian films, Oct. 23 through 24, while the final segment will feature the Bollywood film industry, Nov. 13 through 14. The festival is free and open to the public. For detailed film descriptions, visit

Other films to be screened this weekend will be:


Mother India – Swan Hall, Room 304, 6 p.m.

Aar-paar – Swan Hall Auditorium, 8 p.m.


Swan Hall Auditorium

The River – 1 p.m.

Ankur [The Seedling] – 3 p.m.

Swan Hall, Room 304

Megha Dhaka Tara [Cloud-Capped Star], 1 p.m.

Junoon [The Obsession], 3:15 p.m.