Thursday, October 20, 2005

Short Cut to Nirvana

Posted on Thu, Oct 20, 2005 at 4:00 AM

**1/2

Short Cut to Nirvana
Studio: Mela Films, LLC
Rated: NOT RATED
Website: http://melafilms.com/
Release Date: 2005-10-20
Director: Nick Day, Maurizio Benazzo
WorkNameSort: Short Cut to Nirvana
Our Rating: 2.50

This documentary about a massive yet surprisingly unknown spiritual gathering shows 70 million enlightenment-seekers arriving in Allahabad, India, where three holy rivers (one of which is a mythical, nonphysical river) converge. The event brings together all sorts of gurus and their disciples, as well as those who may still be spiritually browsing. Filmmakers Nick Day and Maurizio Benazzo apparently started out to make a straightforward documentary, but they lock into a narrative pretty early. That helps to move the film forward once its extraordinary sights – like a sadhu who has held up his right arm for 20 years or a Japanese pilgrim who buries herself in a pit for three days – begin to seem ordinary. Though the filmmakers are guilty of injecting predictable disconnects throughout the film – e.g., "India sure is a land of contrasts; look at that guru with a cell phone" – Short Cut is as entertaining as it is illuminating.

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