A Holy Man or a Fool? March 05, 2010

Last night at the Genialists Club in Tartu, we had a hint of the soon-arriving spectacle of Worldfilm. A houseful of spectators travelled from the snowy monochrome of Estonia to the lush greenery of India for an hour. Our travel guide was Michael Yorke, who had met two rather colourful characters at a festival in India attended by many saddhu, India’s holy men. Uma, of Swedish origin and an ex-model now living in India, and Vasisht, an Indian saddhu. From this meeting, and their common pilgrimage to the sources of Ganges and Yamuna rivers in the Himalaya, came the film Holy Men and Fools, which was screened at Worldfilm festival three years ago and now again at Gen Club as a taster of what’s to come this year. A festival friend, journalist Peeter Riba, gave an introduction to the film and the journey began - with hundreds of ‘sky clad’ (naked) saddhus running into the Ganges.
     Some guys just have good luck and Michael Yorke certainly did to have met such people. And we as spectators of his film had good luck too, to get so close to the two characters, to get a glimpse into the intimacy of their devotion. And we also got close to Michael's searching too, to know whether he was to belong among the holy men, or the fools. Regardless of the answer, his enthusiasm for his subject and keen interest in their spirituality come across strongly in the film, and at times rather charmingly, as expressed among other times in his, “this is fantastic!”, quietly whispered behind the camera when Vasisht shows him the cave in which they were to spend the night.
     In addition to last night's event, two of last year's festival films are being shown in KUMU, Tallinn (10th March and 17th March). Estonian Television has one film a night for the week leading up to the festival, at 21:30 Monday 15th March to the Friday 19th March, with all 5 repeated on Saturday 20th. And the Video Library at the ENM café (Kuperjanovi 9, Tartu) also has previous festival films.

Madli Kütt

Holy Men and Fools, UK 2005, 72 min, director Michael Yorke.

Michael Yorke filming Vasisht and Uma.