"It’s a great honour to be here in this gorgeous, picturesque, idyllic place that offers a pure and idealistic celebration of cinema” said Raam Reddy, the director of 'Thithi'.

The 5th edition of Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) opened on November 3 to a packed house screening of National Award winning Kannada film, Thithi at the Tibetan Children’s  Village School, McLeodganj,  Dharamshala.

Overwhelmed with the audience response, Raam Reddy, the director of Thithi, who was also present at the screening said, “People braved the conditions, which were sometimes not the most favorable, and I heard a lot of laughter, which made people interact with the story. It’s a really warm audience with a warm feeling. This is really just a celebration of cinema.”

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Raam Reddy at DIFF

Feeling thrilled after the first day success, director-founder-director of DIFF, Ritu Sarin says “We have a very good audience here that is quite cinema literate and that feels really good”

A film review competition was held for the students of local schools of Himachal Pradesh on 2nd November, 2016. The competition was judged by Monica Wahi, Saibal Chatterjee and Aseem Chabbra.

The chief guest for the opening ceremony of DIFF 2016, Urban Development Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Shri Sudhir Sharma awarded the young students of the local school of Dharamshala.

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Shri Sudhir Sharma at DIFF

The 4-day film festival is being held from 3-6 November 2016 in the beautiful mountain town of McLeodganj, Dharamshala­– home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, has a new venue this year. It also disclosed a brand new look designed by Wieden + Kennedy Delhi, who have come on board as the Creative Partners for the film festival.

In keeping with the spirit of DIFF, this year’s programme includes feature films, shorts, children’s films, video installations, masterclasses, conversations, panel discussions, and community outreach events, thus offering a selection of the best of contemporary independent cinema.

The programme is curated by Festival Directors Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam. They are joined this year by Associate Director Raman Chawla, filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni (programmer for the Shorts section), and Children’s Media Specialist, Monica Wahi (programmer of the Children’s Films section).

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Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam addressing the crowd at DIFF

The programme for 2016 includes 43 films, which include 27 feature films (18 narratives and nine documentaries), 15 short films, and one medium docu-fiction. 20 filmmakers, including nine international filmmakers, are coming to DIFF to present their films. 21 countries are represented and 18 films will have their India premieres, including two world premieres and one Asian premiere.

Among the feature documentaries in the line-up, Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog (USA), Sean McAllister’s A Syrian Love Story (UK), Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s Sonita (Iran), and Pushpa Rawat’s Mod (India) complicate notions of the personal within a volatile social and political landscape. Other highlights include Ladakhi filmmaker Stanzin Dorjai Gya and Christiane Mordelet’s The Shepherdess of the Glaciers (India) and Mickey Lemle’s The Last Dalai Lama? (USA).

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Raam Reddy addressing the crowd at DIFF

The Asian line-up promises a unique blend of experimental filmmaking and historically deconstructive narratives. Some of the notable titles in this section are: Pimpaka Towira’s genre-twisting Thai road movie The Island Funeral; the ambitious Hong Kong omnibus film, Ten Years; Veteran South Korean director Jeon Soo-il’s diasporic story, A Korean in Paris; Nguyen Trinh Thi’s experimental Vietnam The Movie; Wang Yichun’s gripping debut from China, What’s in the Darkness; Boo Junfeng’s acclaimed Singapore prison drama, Apprentice, nominated as Singapore’s entry for the foreign language Oscar; and exile Tibetan filmmaker Tenzin Dasel’s short docufiction,  Royal Café (France).

Representing the best of new Indian indie cinema are: Vetri Maaran’s compelling Tamil drama, Interrogation (India’s Oscar entry for 2016); Mangesh Joshi’s poetic Marathi narrative, Lathe Joshi; Rajeev Ravi’s Malayalam gangster epic, Kammatipaadam; Umesh Kulkarni’s Mumbai-to-Pune road movie, Highway; and Bauddhayan Mukherji’s dark Hindi comedy, The Violin Player.

The programme spotlights a Kangra Valley section which includes local Dharamshala director, Sanjeev Kumar’s Gaddi language feature, Mane de Phere; Prabhjit Dhamija’s short film, Asmad; and Steffi Giaracuni’s documentary, Didi Contractor: Marrying the Earth to the Building, about the legendary Kangra Valley architect.

Acclaimed Indian New Wave director Saeed Akhtar Mirza will be in conversation with film writer Aseem Chhabra, and renowned film and theatre actor Naseeruddin Shah will discuss his life and work with film critic Rajeev Masand.

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Sean McAllister will conduct this year’s master class titled Cinema of Integrity.

Two panel discussions will be held. The first, moderated by film writer Saibal Chatterjee, features directors Umesh Kulkarni (Maharashtra), Bauddhayan Mukherji (West Bengal) and Sanjeev Kumar (Himachal Pradesh), who will discuss the place of India’s growing independent regional cinema in a country dominated by Bollywood movies. The second, moderated by filmmaker and DIFF Co-Director Tenzing Sonam, brings together international filmmakers Pimpaka Towira (Thailand), Boo Junfeng (Singapore), Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami (Iran), Kiwi Chow Kwun-Wai (Hong Kong) and Tenzin Dasel (France) in a discussion about their disparate films and the questions of identity and belonging that link them.

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Shri Sudhir Sharma (Extreme Right) with Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin

This year, DIFF is proud to present, with its long-term collaborator Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (Vienna), a selection of single-channel video installations from its private collection: Palestinian artist duo, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme’s Collapse and The Incidental Insurgents (Parts 1 and 2), and Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s Some Questions on the Nature of Your Existence.

As part of DIFF’s community outreach programme, screenings were organised in local villages, including Dharamkot, Heini and Rakked, and at the District Jail in Lower Dharamshala. A special screening was held for students from Harmony Through Education—a thriving school for children and young adults with special educational needs—together with students from local mainstream schools. Other outreach programmes included a film appreciation competition for 20 school students from four local schools, invitations for local schools and colleges to festival screenings, and large-scale community screenings in collaboration with Jagori Rural Charitable Trust.

Summary
Event
DIFF 2016 Dharamshala
Starting on
November 3, 2016
Ending on
November 6, 2016