The Watson’s Hotel

NEW DOCS

A dawn-to-dusk symphony of Mumbai contained within a single building, The Watson’s Hotel tells the story of a once majestic relic of the British Empire, sagging and crumbling near the Bombay High Court. The oldest surviving cast-iron structure in India, completed in 1863, it’s a grand 19th-century colonial jewel, a former “Europeans Only” outpost of empire. A persistent legend about the structure is that when wealthy Indian industrialist Jamsetji Tata was turned away, he built the Taj, one of the world’s great luxury hotels, as revenge. In 1896 the Lumière brothers screened their motion pictures in the building, giving movie-mad India its first glimpse of the cinema. Today it is a warren of legal offices, convenient to the courts, even if a desk and its occupant occasionally plummet to the floor below. Many staff live in the building, sleeping on hard pallets in the lobby; the lift men and chaiwallahs are as much a part of the historic structure as the elegant balconies. Time will tell if UNESCO World Heritage Site protection will shield it from destruction.  LB

Friday, April 5 — 4:00 pm Cinema 1

Directors

Ragunath Vasudevan, Nathaniel Knop, Peter Rippl

Producers

Ragunath Vasudevan, Nathaniel Knop, Peter Rippl

Editors

Nathaniel Knop, Peter Rippl

Cinematographers

Peter Rippl, Nathaniel Knop

Release Year

2019

Festival Year

2019

Country

Germany, India

Run Time

76 minutes

Subtitled

Yes

Premiere

World Premiere