AAFF 50th: Retrospective Screening #5

February 22nd, 2012 7:30pm
Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, MI
Tickets: $5 - $10

The AAFF 50th Retrospective series concludes with Robert Gardner’s feature documentary Forest of Bliss, which played at the 24th Ann Arbor Film Festival in 1986. This landmark and influential documentary film has recently been restored and will be screened on a new 35mm print on loan from the Harvard Film Archive.

FOREST OF BLISS is intended as an unsparing but ultimately redeeming account of the inevitable griefs and frequent happinesses  that punctuate daily life in Benares, one ofthe world's most holy cities. The film unfolds from one sunrise to the next without commentary, subtitles or dialogue. It is an attempt to give anyone who sees it a wholly authentic though greatly magnified view of the matters of life and death that are portrayed.

Of the multitude at work, at play and at prayer, three individuals are seen in somewhat greater detail than others. They are a healer of great geniality who attends the pained and troubled, a baleful and untouchable King of the Great Cremation Ground who sells the sacred fire, and an unusually conscientious priest who keeps a small shrine on the banks of the Ganges.

Seeing FOREST OF BLISS completed, I am quite certain that the animals, especially the dogs, have an importance I merely glimpsed while I was filming. The dogs and, of course, the river... –Robert Gardner

Advance tickets are recommended. All screenings take place at the Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor. All screenings begin at 7:30pm and tickets are $10 general; $7 students/seniors/Michigan Theater members; $5 Ann Arbor Film Festival members. The series is supported by the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan and presented in partnership with the Michigan Theater.

Posted on December 12th, 2011