Monsoon is a feature-length documentary that delves into the lives of those affected by this incomparably vast seasonal weather system in India.

Created by award-winning filmmaker, Sturla Gunnarsson, in 2014 the camera team chased the monsoon on its annual journey from landfall in the southern state of Kerala to India’s north-eastern state of Meghalaya.

Some Indians call the monsoon phenomenon ‘the soul of India’ and the film documents a remarkable group of individuals whose lives, in different ways, are entwined with this weather event while showcasing stunning landscapes.

Production began in mid-May, two weeks before ‘onset,’ and filming carried on for 90 days, concluding in September as the monsoon receded.

Monsoon is the first film in Revelstoke's Movies in the Mountains series. Photo: Publicity shot.
Monsoon is the first film in Revelstoke’s Movies in the Mountains series. Photo: Publicity shot.

In her review of Monsoon, Deborah Young from the Toronto Review describes the film: “Monsoon is a film that was waiting to be made: a great subject, a vast scale (all over India), dramatic cinematography and even a bit of humor regarding the timid weather bureaucracy and a henna-haired odds-maker who bets on the rain. Gunnarsson’s style is formal and classic, with no frills beyond the inclusion of his own off-screen voice drawling questions.”

Monsoon is the first film in the 2015–16 Movies in the Mountains Series. The series features the best multicultural films from the Toronto International Film Festival, shown on the last Wednesday of every month. Monsoon will show September 30 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $8 though a three-film pass is $20 and a six-film pass is $30. Tickets can be bought online or at the Revelstoke Visitor Centre or at ArtFirst.

Revelstoke Mountaineer readers can enjoy a special online discount of 5% off prices by entering the promo discount code revmountaineer when purchasing tickets online.

Interview with the director Sturla Gunnarsson

What initially drew you to this story?  What was it about India’s monsoon that made you want to make a film about it?

The terrible spectacle of the monsoon. Photo: Publicity shot.
The terrible spectacle of the monsoon. Photo: Publicity shot.

‘Monsoon’ is my love letter to India. I’ve been romanced by the idea of monsoon since I can remember. I’ve travelled often and extensively throughout India, am married into a big Indian family and have long dreamed of experiencing the monsoon, so when (producer) Ina Fichman offered me the opportunity to make a film about it I jumped.  

I guess it’s kind of personal on many levels. For one thing, I love weather, and I especially love big weather. Something about it brings me a feeling of mystery and awe that’s as close to god as this non-believer will likely ever get.  

I’ve lived in India and made a film there (Such A Long Journey) and experienced how challenging and, on the face of it, impossible, everything can be there.  Even a trip across town can be a whole-day affair.  

And despite this, in every photograph I’ve seen of myself in India, I have a big smile on my face.  It’s just something about the place, and especially the people,  that makes me feel that, in spite of all the obstacles, things are possible.  

That sense of the possibility, of faith, is what drew me to this project.  I saw in the monsoon an awful, beautiful, unfathomable phenomenon and wanted to both experience and meditate on it.    

What would you like viewers to take away from the experience of Monsoon?

I’d like the audience to experience the beautiful/terrible spectacle of the monsoon, and to reflect on the sense of mystery and awe that it inspires.

Read the whole Q&A here.

Reserve your tickets online via the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre website. Don’t forget the online promo code revmountaineer for a 5% discount.