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World Water Day: Award-winning Film About the Yamuna Released for Public Screening
By ISKCON News Staff   |  Mar 20, 2018

(Photography by Filip Cargonja and Bhismadeva Dasa)

Each year, March 22nd marks the ‘World Water Day’ established by the United Nations and celebrated all over the globe, with the purpose of focusing our attention on the importance of water.

On this occasion, the production team of ‘The Stolen River’, a 40-minute documentary about the sacred Yamuna, has made the film available for public screening for communities, temples, educational- and other organizations. At the moment it is only available in English, but they are working on getting the film translated into other languages.

Yamuna River worshipers in Vrindavan

‘The Stolen River’ is the story of six young people in Braj, who set out on a journey to find out who is poisoning their sacred river Yamuna, causing people and animals to fall sick and die in masses in their village and surrounding areas. By the time they arrive at the foothills of the Himalayas, a shocking reality unfolds in front of them: their river has been “stolen” and replaced by an open flow of sewage, causing a major ecological disaster affecting tens of millions — to which, unknowingly, the whole world contributes. The question is: can they save the river, people’s lives and their holy land, the very heart of the ancient Indian culture?

The film has been selected to be shown in many film festivals all over the world including India, Malaysia and the United States, and has won several prestigious awards, including that of ‘The Best Environmental Film’ in Kolkata, India; ‘The Best in Show’ award in Gainesville, Florida, USA;  ‘The Best Green Film’ award in Lonavla, Maharastra, India; and the ‘Impact DOCS Award’ in Los Angeles, California, USA.

One of the awards won in the city of the holy Ganga.

In accordance with the India-based ‘Save Yamuna’ grassroots movement, the film’s producers at Karuna Productions, lead by Krisztina Danka, Ph.D. (Krishna-lila dasi) has launched a four-point action plan for the consideration of all those who want to help saving the sacred river, regardless where they live.  These points include refraining from purchasing Indian basmati rice that is cultivated on the diverted Yamuna water; signing the petition to the Prime Minister of India; organizing screenings for ‘The Stolen River’ and educating people about this issue; and donating to the cause.

There are many screening options communities can choose from: they can hold free events, they can charge admission fee, or they can purchase the perpetual screening rights for ‘The Stolen River’. The license fees will help the production team push the project forward, make the pollution victims’ and Yamuna Devi’s plea heard far and wide, and achieve the desired impact on policy making as soon as possible.

Untreated sewage discharging into the riverbed, causing millions of people and animals to fall sick

“Besides reviving the river, the film has a deeper purpose, the film’s director Krishna-lila explains. Just like with other forms of devotional art, it is to glorify God, his pure-hearted servants, the sacred river and land. By involving devotees and the general public in the impact campaign following the film, we are offering them the opportunity to perform direct service to the Goddess Yamuna, the holy dham and the Brijbhasis, and gain eternal spiritual benefit from it.”

The film’s North American premiere at the Cinema Verde International Environmental Film & Arts Festival in February was a completely sold-out show and great success.

People at the US premiere screening facing the harsh reality about the sacred river

Some of the feedback ‘The Stolen River’ has received after the screening: 

“The film is so well done, very moving. I really want to thank the filmmakers for going through all the troubles to enlighten us. It is heartbreaking in one sense, but it also gives us hope that maybe we can all pull together and do something.” (Bada Haridas – musician, Florida, USA) 

“Wow, that was wonderful. I was moved, angered and yet felt purified by the whole experience of the film. It captured the issues beautifully and the cinematography was, at times, breathtaking.” (Akhandadhi Das – former Temple President of the Bhaktivedanta Manor, UK)

“I was very deeply moved and enlightened. I had no idea about the river being cut off for rice production. That was significant news to me.” (Pranada Comtois – author, Florida, USA) 

Author Kosa Ely and musicial Bada Haridas in ‘The Stolen River’ audience

“The film is very well done, was the best, most impactful film at the festival.” (Alycin Hayes – filmmaker, Cinema Verde film festival organizer)

“It was a very inspirational movie, I really liked it, and I hope people will actually think about saving the river and will stop doing that much pollution.” – (Gauranga – 12-year-old student)

“What I absolutely love about this movie is using film to promote activism, to be able to spread such an important message far and wide. Especially that it gives us solution. We are all contributing to the problem, and now we can all be part of the solution. It is really-really important, because we are no longer isolated, we are all part of one large global community.” (Kosha Ely – author, Florida, USA)

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To apply for screening rights and a copy of the film click here: 

More details about how people can be involved are available here:

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