Winter 2015 Documentary series
Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 7:00pm
Directed by Sturla Gunnarsson
Screenplay by Sturla Gunnarsson
Rated PG ·
Veteran filmmaker Sturla Gunnarsson—whose Force of Nature, a look at the life of Canadian icon David Suzuki, won the People’s Choice Award for best documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010—returns with one of his most personal projects to date. Monsoon is a visually stunning meditation on the annual rains that descend upon India, and their alternately disastrous and beneficial impact on Indian society, economy, agriculture, and individual lives. For Gunnarsson, the monsoon functions as a godlike entity, capable of bringing and sustaining life and destroying it—a duality that sparks profound reflections on the nature of order, chaos, creation, and faith in a perpetually mysterious universe.
Chasing the weather system from when it hits land in the south (where a family anxiously awaits its arrival) to its passage through large cities like Calcutta and Mumbai and on into the northern sections of the country, Gunnarsson speaks to Indians from all walks of life about the monsoon’s manifold effects: the head of the Indian Meteorological Society, who zealously (and hilariously) polices his statements in the knowledge that an inopportune phrasing could cause markets to plummet, so significant is the monsoon to agriculture; a movie star, who discusses the storm’s function as a herald of romance in countless Bollywood movies; a bookie, who takes bets on when and whether the skies will open up; park rangers endeavouring to protect endangered animals exposed to poachers by the floods; and many more.
Stunningly shot, Monsoon balances an almost religious awe in the face of the rains’ monstrous power with a profoundly empathetic appreciation of both the toll it takes and the boons it bestows on those at its mercy. Thoughtful, affecting, finally overwhelming, this is a powerfully emotional journey through anticipation, joy, heartbreak, and relief.