The latest from Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic (Cabaret Balkan) is a visually stunning fable set in a remote Himalayan village, where the return of a native who has been wandering for 40 years (Victor Banerjee) stirs dark memories and old grudges.
Land of the Gods
The latest from Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic is serene and assured, unimposing and wise, the work of an artist with nothing to prove and everything to share. Co-scripted by Paskaljevic and his endlessly watchable lead actor Victor Banerjee, Land of the Gods makes a geographical and spiritual journey into the past, leading us to discover how to forge a better future.
Rahul Negi (Banerjee) returns to his remote Himalayan village after a 40-year absence, with only his rucksack and his good manners. A devastating landslide struck the region two years ago, killing thousands, but the Elysian beauty of this place transcends the residues of disaster. Rahul wanders, looking for familiar faces, and, surprisingly enough, there are those who instantly recognize him — but they are not happy to see him. He left the village of his youth under a dark cloud. Most of the people here are superstitious and capable of holding grudges over generations. Suffice it to say that the bad vibes involve family squabbles, a woman, and the terrible injustices of caste.
Dedicated to the people of Uttarakhand, the north Indian state ravaged by floods and landslides in 2013, Land of the Gods is a simple but emotion-laden film that's an homage to a place, its people, and their traditions. It features a wedding ceremony and a funeral, and there are splendid images of villagers at work and at rest. One scene of a woman bathing her children is a vision of quotidian loveliness.
Over and over throughout Land of the Gods, Paskaljevic illuminates the ordinary with grace — one of the highest achievements to which a filmmaker can aspire.