Short Cut to Nirvana
Studio Z, 314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F.
The film's premiere party re-creates some of Kumbh Mela's wild atmosphere with DJs including Cheb i Sabbah and Amar, the Dholrhythms Dance Troupe, and live tabla and sitar music in addition to a screening
Thursday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m.
Admission is $10
Filmmakers Nick Day and Maurizio Benazzo had heard about it, though, and wanted to share. Setting out for Allahabad with a documentary crew, they came home with footage of ecstatic sadhus (holy men) with flowers in their hair, throngs of pilgrims rushing into the region's sacred rivers, and the Dalai Lama's press conference. The sheer number of people was hard to capture: Even using a camera's extreme long shot, only a few thousand of the devout are visible. The filmmakers' solution was to include a satellite shot of this human Great Wall, which is, sure enough, visible from space. The result is an award-winning film, Short Cut to Nirvana, the title referencing the Hindu belief that the festival's high point, bathing at the confluence of the two real (Ganges and Yamuna) and one mythical (Sarasvati) rivers, will get you closer to the blissful release from the cycle of rebirth known as nirvana. It could easily have been a silly Westerners' oglefest, but instead we see an intelligent and inquisitive team at work, and a knowing set of eyes behind the cinematography and editing.