Traveling from 5,500 meters atop the Gangotri Glacier, a team of three journeys 2,400 kilometers down The Ganges, the most sacred of all of India’s rivers.
Once celebrated for its purity, the Ganges River of India now carries contaminates from its glacial headwaters, where freshly fallen snow contains zinc from industrial emissions. Downriver, the river is dammed 16 times (with another 14 dams under construction) to provide hydroelectric power and flood control.
All along its course, water is diverted from the river for agriculture and other uses, and the 500 million people in the Ganges basin further pollute the river with household trash, industrial waste, raw sewage and the remains of the dead.
Still, the Hindu faithful revere the river as Ma Ganga – or “Mother Ganges” – a physical embodiment of the divine. Millions flock to her banks to bathe and absolve their sins with Ganga jal (Ganges water). And, almost magically, the river does cleanse itself, perhaps through dilution, perhaps through biology and the help of bacteriophages. Its waters still putrefy but more slowly than water from other rivers, just as they did for sailors from the British East India Company 400 years ago.
Holy (un)Holy River examines the paradox of this sacred river on a source to sea journey from 18,000 feet in the Himalaya, 1500 miles to its terminus all while studying water samples along the way. Film studies the intricacies of this waterway that are divine and defiled, revered and reviled – and asks the essential question: Can the Ganges survive?
Winner – Best Adventure and Exploration Film, 2016 Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival
Go to website https://www.holyunholyriver.com/
Native Coloradan Pete McBride has spent two decades studying the world with a camera. A self-taught photographer, filmmaker, writer, and public speaker, he has traveled on assignment to over 75 countries for the National Geographic Society, Smithsonian, Outside, Esquire, Microsoft, The Nature Conservancy and many more.
After a decade documenting remote expeditions from Everest to Antarctica, Pete became frustrated with the media and magazine world and decided to focus his cameras closer to home on a subject closer to his heart – his backyard river, the Colorado. Four years and 1500-river miles later, McBride produced a book, three award-winning short documentaries and hosted a PBS TV program. Other watersheds soon called including a source to sea look at India’s Ganges. Upon completing the journey, The National Geographic Society named McBride a “Freshwater Hero”. Others, particularly children, call him the ‘Lorax of Rivers’.
When not lost on assignment or grumbling about his blisters, you can find McBride exploring the Rocky Mountains, practicing mandolin on his back porch in Colorado… or possibly dancing.
Follow Pete on Instagram @pedromcbride
Jake Norton is a world-renowned climber, photographer, filmmaker, philanthropist, and inspirational speaker. Based in Evergreen, Colorado, Jake’s worldwide adventures have taken him to the summit of Mount Everest (three times) and on expeditions on all seven continents.
His photography has appeared in publications such as Vanity Fair, National Geographic, Forbes, and Oprah, while his film footage has been used in documentaries and television series.
As a speaker, Jake has inspired tens of thousands of people and companies worldwide to reach new summits and enjoy their climb to the top. He is also a sought-after trainer, conducting highly-interactive full and half day leadership and teamwork workshops for corporations and associations.
Jake is also an active philanthropist. He is an Ambassador – along with Reinhold Messner – for the United Nations’ Mountain Partnership, and in this role he advocates on behalf of mountains, mountain environments, and mountain peoples. In 2011, he founded Challenge21, a multi-year climbing and fundraising project dedicated to the global water crisis, and its solutions. To date, Jake has launched four Challenge21 expeditions, shared his message with over one million people worldwide, and raised some $300,000 for his non-profit partner, Water For People.
Follow Jake on Instagram @mountainworld