Clip from Forest of Bliss (1985), directed by Robert Gardner
A gorgeous account of the daily cycle of grief and celebration within the holy city of Benares, located along the life-giving and mournful Ganges. The film profiles three individuals: a healer, a cremator, and a priest, and emphasizes the importance of the animals within the city. As far as ethnographic interviews go, I found Gardner’s eye to be both respectful and keen - it’s so easy for one’s message to become alienated due to subjective filmmaking or voice-over. I found myself lost in Gardner’s gaze, in the beauty of Benares’ architecture and the power of its citizens. This is possibly one of my favorite ethnographic documentaries.