The four-day festival will have feature films, documentaries and short films
With some of the best indie films from Poland, Sri Lanka, Australia and Laos participating, the second edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF), starting Thursday in McLeod Ganj, promises to enrich viewers’ experience about different societies and cultures. Being organised in the scenic locales of Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, and the annual, four-day event will be a unique experience for the movie aficionados who will be served with a bouquet of over 40 contemporary works that includes feature films, documentaries and short movies.
Conceptualised by internationally acclaimed filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, the DIFF is presented through their non-profit organisation, White Crane Arts & Media Trust. “Our main aim this time is to establish DIFF as a world-class film festival. Showcasing the best of both Indian and world cinema, the second edition will continue to create a cultural space for the local population too,” Sarin said. “This year, we have filmmakers coming from all around the world presenting a selection of films which have rarely been shown in India. We are also aiming to encourage film lovers and visitors from India and abroad to visit Dharamsala by establishing a world-class film festival and promoting it as an destination for cultural tourism,” she added.
Ritesh Batra’s highly acclaimed The Lunchbox will open the festival and its producer Guneet Monga will present the film. Besides The Lunchbox, the fest will screen Nagraj Manjule’s Fandry, Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistaan, Sange Dorjee Thongdok’s Crossing Bridges, Richie Mehta’s Siddharth, and Q’s Tasher Desh.
There will be Oscar flavour too as this year’s documentary selection will represent some of the most powerful films from the Director’s Cut of the Oscar-favourite. The names include Joshuah Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin’s Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.
Indian documentaries will be led by Anand Patwardhan’s Jai Bhim Comrade, Nishtha Jain’s Gulabi Gang and Avijit Mukul Kishore’s To Let the World In.
International entries include indie films, which are winning acclaim at film festivals worldwide. The list includes Jacek Borcuch’s Polish film Lasting; Prasanna Vithanage’s Sri Lankan movie With You Without You, Cate Shortland’s Lore from Australia, which was also the Best Foreign Film Oscar Nominee, and Kim Mordaunt’s The Rocket from Laos.
The highlight of the fest will be Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky’s much-acclaimed Canadian documentary “Watermark”, with Baichwal in attendance. The film had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Talking about the country that the fest is focusing upon, Sarin said: “We haven’t focussed on any specific country, but we do have Polish film ‘Lasting’. We also have amazing film called ‘Watermark’ coming. The film went to Toronto International Film Festival so it is going to be one of the high points of this edition.”
Interactions are an important part of the fest and the likes of Amit Virmani, director of Menstrual Man, and Prasanna Vithanage, director of With you, Without you, and Anand Patwardhan will be there to share their experience.
Talking about the unique thing about the fest, Sarin said the Art and Film section brings a selection of acclaimed art films in collaboration with DIFF’s main partner, Vienna-based Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Foundation (TBA21), to India for the first time. A special sidebar at this year’s DIFF showcases the best of recent short films from India, curated by noted Indian filmmaker Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni.
An exhibition of Japanese artist Tomoyo Ihaya’s drawings from Dharamsala – Tibet Burning – will be on display at the event.
Why Dharamsala for such an international event like this?
“Dharmsala is like an international platform with a lot of foreigners visiting here, so I think, it will set new trends. Also, the entry is free for everybody and we are also providing transport to different local colleges and schools to come and be the part of fest,” said Sarin. She added she has been getting support from the Himachal government and local administration to the fest, a world-class event.