DER Documentary

The Last Rites of the Honourable Mr. Rai


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directed by Jayasinhji Jhala
edited by Alethea Carbaugh and Lauren Semmel
color, 47 min, 2007




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The Last Rites of the Honourable Mr. Rai is a film about the cremation of a longtime resident of the holy city of Varanasi. This film, made at the request of the Rai family, is possibly the most detailed and respectful study of the Hindu rites of cremation on the sacred banks of the river Ganga at the historic Harish Chandra Ghat. With no invasive narration but with inter-titles and subtitles the film enables the viewer to see, hear and experience all that is said by the mourners, the funerary priest and cremation ground specialists, as they carry out this final rite of passage for a Hindu. To underscore that death is as much a part of everyday life, the film begins and ends with the experience of everyday life on the famous ghats of Varanasi and shows the interaction of people with their gods, animals and the sacred river itself.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Religion Today - International Festival of Cinema & Religion, Trento, Italy, 2008
Special Jury Award, XVII International Festival of Ethnological Film, Belgrade, Serbia, 2008
Global Temple Conference, 2008
Days of Ethnographic Film, Rovinj, Croatia, 2009
Worldfilm 2009-Tartu Festival of Visual Culture, Estonia, 2009
AAA/Society for Visual Anthropology Film, Video & Multimedia Festival, 2009
Astra Film Festival, Romania, 2009
Eyes & Lenses - Ethnographic Film Festival, Warsaw, Poland, 2010

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