DEATH IN THE CITY
Special Mention Documentary Jury
Best Afterlife Research
A film in three movements: Spiritual, metaphysical, experiential. With legendary funeral pyres burning non-stop for over three millennia, situated on the holy Ganga, ‘the river of life’, the sacred city of Varanasi is, for Hindus, the dream destination for death. It has been the revered death destination for Hindus since time immemorial, founded on the belief that dying in Varanasi, breaks the repeated cycle of rebirth, with the creator, taking the departed soul directly to heaven as he whispers the Tarak Mantra into their ear. The geography of this sacred Hindu seat is likened to that of Lord Shiva himself, outstretched along the Ganga, where only in Varanasi, the river flows northward. Shot across four years, 2018 – 2021, Death in the City is an intimate portrayal of ‘The City of Life and Death’, its myriad communities who live and work in its ancient streets; including those waiting to die or those working with the dead, along with rare access to the death worshipping Aghori Saints. The most pressured crematorium in the world, Varanasi’s relationship with death is at the same time auspicious, spiritual, and industrial.