Forest of Bliss. 1990. USA. Directed by Robert Gardner. 35mm. 86 min.
An atypical documentary about customs concerning death in Benares, India. Gardner’s“impressionistic travelogue” is virtually free of commentary and constant dialogue. His camera observes the rituals along the Ganges riverbank, where families mourn their dead while, nearby, dogs chew on floating corpses. Often labeled an ethnographic filmmaker, Gardner worked at Harvard University as the director of the Film Study Center from 1956 to 1997, while making films that investigated subjects like the Kwakiuti people of the Pacific Northwest and the Hamer tribe of Ethiopia.