Kolkata has been playing host to an international adventure film festival every year in November. Organised by the single-minded effort of a the dedicated Kalyan Chakrabortty, this year the festival was held over two days on 21st and 22nd November in Kolkata’s Gorky Sadan and Chandannagar’s Nritya Gopal Smriti Mandir respectively. Chakrabortty is based in Chandannagar, a small but important town within the State and the festival is his brainchild that he has been successfully nurturing for 19 years without corporate funding, without any help whatsoever from the central ministries of information and broadcasting or environment, and last but never the least, without any kind of assistance from the State Government. Yet, Giri-Doot a leading mountaineering association of India that presents the festival every year, keeps the flag flying, paying homage to all the men and women whose stories of daring and courage would have remained unheard of and unsung, had this festival not been there. This festival, without articulating it, is also an urge to protect our environment in ultimately, the world in which we live. This is the only film festival of its kind in India.
To go back in time, Chakrabortty, who is an expert in the history of adventure, says, “Organizing film festivals with environmental themes began with the end of World War II. Soon these festivals found their own niche and public response grew accordingly. The increasing popularity of these festivals is traced to our increased awareness about the planet in which we live – Planet Earth, and our sharpened instincts about how it is constantly threatened by human and administrative apathy. Earth is the only planet that has life as we understand it, so as human beings, we have individual and collective responsibility towards it.”
The films screened were Miracle on Everest (Australia) directed by Jennifer Peedom, Solo (Australia) directed by David Michod, Made in Italy (Italy) directed by Fabio Wuytaciv and Ocean Within (Italy) directed by Sergio Damiani. Miracle on Everest documents the remarkable story high-altitude photographer Lincoln Hall’s return from the dead who came back to life after he was declared dead in 2006, the worst year for climbers and explorers in the history of Mount Everest. Hall is the only man in history to have been declared dead so high in Everest but eventually survived. Solo marks the dramatic true-life documentary clippings rescued from the kayak used by Andrew McAuley. He wanted to become the first person to kayak from Australia to New Zealand across 1600 km, one of the wildest and loneliest stretches of ocean on earth. But he died a day short of his journey’s end and his body was never found. Clippings from the camera tapes rescued from his kayak have been used as the base for this film. In Made in Italy, young filmmaker Fabio Wuytack discovers an old film shot more than 100 years ago in Carrara (Italy) by the Lumiere Brothers. Ocean Within is the fascinating story of the mentally challenged Italian Pier Gianni Burreddu. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a sailing boat with other men and women suffering from mental problems from Cardiz to Antilles. After the journey, he coped with his mental block and prepared himself to go back to Sassari where his problems had begun many years ago.
“Giri-Doot presents this International Adventure Film Festival that is an intimate gathering of legendary Alpinists, environmental activists, cutting-edge filmmakers, distributors, authors, journalists, scientists and artists. It is an unrivalled global rendezvous that seeks to sustain an appreciation for the uniqueness of world environments and cultures and to the arts, politics and adventures that set these regions apart,” sums up Chakrabortty. Chakrabortty has plans to take the festival to other parts of India such as Mumbai, Pune, Trivandrum and Rajasthan.
Report by Shoma A. Chatterji