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Boatman (film)

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Directed byGianfranco Rosi
Produced byGianfranco Rosi
Written byGianfranco Rosi
Edited byJacopo Quadri
Distributed byKino Lorber
Release date
Running time
55 minutes

Amazon.com Logo.png Search Boatman (film) on Amazon.Boatman is a 1993 Italian documentary film directed by Gianfranco Rosi.


The film depicts life on the banks of the Ganges in Benares, Uttar Pradesh, India, a holy city where Hindus believe the cycle of rebirth can be broken and salvation can subsequently be attained. People are observed coming to the river to pray, meditate, and work; whilst simultaneously river burials and cremations occur alongside. Various locals and tourists discuss their relationships with the Ganges and with death, including discussions about funeral rites and the Indian caste system.


Boatman was Rosi's film debut. He first travelled to Benares when he was a student looking to make a film for his thesis. Rosi stated his interest in making the film stemmed from Benares' role as being "the only place in the world where dead people and those who are alive are constantly in the same place".[1] Much of the film was recorded during a boat trip taken by Rosi; Gopal, the titular boatman, features heavily in the film. Prior to the boat trip, Rosi had struggled for three months to film and had considered giving up on the project.[2] The film contains many shots offering glimpses into the various uses of the Ganges, including for meditation, tourism, funerals, washing, praying, and recreation. It took Rosi around five years to turn his footage in Boatman.[1]


Since its initial release in 1993, Boatman has featured at several film festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the Viennale and the Hawaii International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Maile Award.[3]


Boatman, while not widely reviewed, received positive responses from some critics. Time Out called the film "excellent" and praised Rosi's "non-judgemental tone".[4] Retrospectively, MUBI described the film as "a profound observational tour" and "a poetic portrait of a nation and its people".[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Gianfranco Rosi: Notturno is universal". www.telegraphindia.com. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  2. Chhibber, Mini Anthikad (2021-03-04). "Filming is always political: 'Notturno' director Gianfranco Rosi". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Boatman, retrieved 2021-03-08
  4. "Boatman". Time Out Worldwide. Retrieved 2021-03-08.

External links[edit]

Category:1993 films Category:Films directed by Gianfranco Rosi Category:1993 documentary films Category:Documentary films about India

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