Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival



Atman is the Sanskrit word for soul. The third part of director Pirjo Honkasalo’s Trilogy of the Sacred and the Satanic documents the pilgrimage of disfigured Jamana Lal. His legs have been paralysed since childhood, but his disability doesn’t seem to affect his resilience. Even when he lapses close to despair, he seems to gain hope and strength soon after. Together with his brother, he embarks on a 6000-kilometres pilgrimage on the Himalayan mountains to the source of the holy Ganges River.

Lal is determined to take his mother’s ashes to the source of the Ganges River. He believes this to be a means to cleanse his soul, achieve inner peace and reach enlightenment. This life hasn’t been fair, but perhaps the next one will be. After visiting a million-strong religious festival, Lal and his family travel to Varanasi, Kolkata and to the city of Haridwar in the Himalayas, where the Ganges flows. The poetic and beautiful journey upstream the Ganges River is accompanied by nightmarish shots of corpses floating in the river and people dipping themselves in the polluted water as they believe it to be holy.

Joonas Nykänen (translated by Milla Sairanen)

Language: Hindi, Gujarati
Subtitles: English
Length: 76 min
Age Limit: S
Year: 1996
Production Country: Finland

Director: Pirjo Honkasalo
Producer: Walter Flemmer, Patrick Hörl
Production Company: Bayerischer Rundfunk, Telepool, Baabeli Ky
Screenplay: Pirjo Honkasalo
Editing: Christine Hafner
Cinematographer: Pirjo Honkasalo
Music: Eero Ojanen
Sound Design: Mart Otsa, Martti Turunen