Two wandering Indian mystics return after 20 years to the sacred Ganges river and journey from the delta to glacial source, high in the Himalayas, in search of a lost family member.
Holiwater is a feature length documentary film that evokes a breathtaking portrait of one of the world’s most revered rivers and explores humanity’s relationship to water. A photographer follows the two river worshipers as they journey upstream, revealing the plight of their river which becomes ever more clear. The tale of the two friend’s epic 2400 kilometre river journey is told by the blind singer Kannai, while waiting backstage to sing with The Holiwater Project – a group of international artists who gather together to perform in protest at the ailing condition of the Ganges river. The film reveals the state of the river and delivers a bell weather warning to the water crisis that looms worldwide – as revealed through the music and voice of the dying river. The film asks what is arguably the most urgent environmental question of our time: how can humanity avoid conflict as it strives to create a truly sustainable and equitable future around water?
“As a photographer and video artist I was intrigued by the music belonging to the Indian landscape. I set out recording many great classical musicians and found myself preoccupied by documenting two wandering Baul musicians who were on a pilgrimage. I became close friends with Deb Das and Kannai Baul and over the course of a decade filmed them periodically – sometimes with them performing with The Holiwater Project band on the banks of the Ganges river. This passage of time filming and performing with them also gave me a clear insight to the deep ecological changes that the river has undergone. The Bauls worship the river through their music, they are mystics who see the river as a living deity. I noticed their reaction to the vast changes that had occurred to the river itself over a significant period of their lives. The river revealed many things that shape our modern world. Holiwater is about the Bauls’ river. The film is oriented by the music of the Ganges and is a personal portrait of India’ most sacred river. It is an attempt at revealing her mystery and the extent of her demise – because her condition shows so vividly the vulnerability of the Earth’s limited fresh water supplies in an uncertain age marked by rapid climate change.” Andrei Jewell