River to River Florence Indian Film Festival-The Story of Two Cultures

An India and Italy connection that I’m proud to share is the River to River Florence Indian Film Festival (River to River FIFF) founded by Selvaggia Velo. A Film festival outside of the borders of India which is completely focused on Indian films and cinema, this event celebrated its 20th Edition in Dec 2020.

Founded in 2001, the festival is aptly named and focuses on two cultures from one river- Ganges, to another- Arno. The River to River FIFF is organized every year in Florence and is recognized by the Embassy of India, Regione Toscana and the City of Florence. People from all parts of Italy visit this festival which happens in the month of December. The event offers a chance for others to see the best of Indian Cinema which includes both indie and big budget movies.. There are movies screened during the festival in Florence as well as other Italian cities such as Rome and Milan.

Selvaggia Velo, Founder and Director of the Festival, shares more about it on Italophilia!

River to River Florence Indian Film Festival-The Story of Two Cultures

1. Ciao Selvaggia, welcome to Italophilia. Tell us where you’re from in Italy and where you’ve lived.

Hi Ishita, I’m so happy to be part of this interview on Italophilia. I’m from Tuscany, born here and then studied from the University of Bologna -one of the oldest universities in the world. I’ve also studied in Brussels and then went for my thesis to Paris. I love to travel!

2. How did the idea of River to River come about??

I was in India in 1998 and organized a show of Indian movie banners painted by hand. Later in 1999, I invited these painters to Le Murate in Florence to do a live event under the stars. Here an Indian film was screened which was a hit. From then to 2001, the FIFF festival was conceptualized and initiated and I simply dived into the setup of the festival without much thought…It just happened.

During this time, I had the fortune to meet many lovely people who supported me for this festival. One of the people who supported me in India was Uma da Cunah -a dear friend who is a very important part of the festival. I have also had the chance to meet wonderful Directors, Producers and Actors thanks to FIFF that happens in my home region- Tuscany!

3. List any 5 favorite Indian movies that one should watch.

Its so hard to choose 5 but if I had to pick I’d say- Gangs of Wasseypur- Part I & II, Dum laga ke haisha, Kagaz ke Phool, Days and Nights in the Forest and Lunchbox.

Watch Shabana Azmi at the 13th Edition of the River to River FIFF

4. Is there a place in India that’s close to Italy? If yes, which one??

I’d pick Calcutta which is very much like Napoli. Also I have to say that the entire India is gorgeous and I love the culture and delicious food. While I have a major fondness for cities such as Mumbai, which feels like home, I also love Leh and Delhi.

5. Could you name some guests that were part of the FIFF in these past years….

In no particular order- Amitabh Bachchan, Vishal Bhardwaj, Tapsee Pannu, Radhika Apte, Kabir Bedi, Shabana Azmi, Deepa Mehta, Ketan Mehta, Anurag Kashyap, Abhishek Kapoor and the late Irrfan Khan are some of the names and important guests that have been part of our festival since its inception.

To be a part of the River to River FIFF community and follow more on our guests, check out our social media pages- Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram. #GetRivered 

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