This year stay home-bound and explore the magic of movies at film fiestas held at exotic destinations and for unique reasons. We bring to you a list of movie carnivals across the length and breadth of India that are worth attending.

In May do you pack bags to head to the French Riviera to soak in the sun and stargaze at the Great dame of film festivals, Festival De Cannes? Or do you prefer to hobnob with like-minded folks at the haven for independent films, Sundance Film Festival? Whatever be your reason to travel to faraway destinations to indulge in cinematic fun, we have quite a few festivals within our country that are worth the time and effort.

International Film Festival of India (IFFI)

IFFI is the film festival of India and Asia and held mostly around end of November in Goa. Not only does it showcase some well-made Indian movies (movies other than Bollywood also), but has films from the nook and corner of the world. Last year IFFI selected China as the nation in focus and showed quality Chinese films like Beijing Blues, American Dreams in China, Caught In The Web, Feng Shui, et al at the fest. The country’s oldest film fest attracts movie folks from all over the country. In 2014, South superstar, Rajinikanth, and Bollywood’s superstar, Amitabh Bachchan, shared the stage on big days at the festival.

Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI)

Also known as MAMI as it is organised by the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image, it is a festival that takes place in the heart of Hindi cinema, Mumbai, around October every year. Founded and backed by the biggest names from Bollywood, MAMI celebrates a varied variety of cinema from within India and around the globe. But it is also the carnival where the famous Hindi film stars make their presence felt at large. So, not only can you satiate your desire for world cinema but can also rub shoulders with your favourite Bollywood filmmakers.

Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF)

MIFF, a biennial event, is the country’s first event that focuses on documentaries, short and animation movies. MIFF was first curated in 1990 (back then as Bombay International Film Festival), yet in more than two decades it attracted many famous filmmakers like Shyam Benegal, Anand Patwardhan, Aruna Raje, etc. In 2014 they discovered and revered interesting films like At The Stairs and A Dream Called America (documentary), Midnight Bioscope (short film), Good Morning Mumbai and Journey To Nagaland (animation films).

Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF)

KIFF is held in the culturally vibrant city of India, Kolkata. It screens children’s features, international films, Asian movies etc. around mid-November every year. It is the second oldest film festival of India.

National Children’s Film Festival (NCFF)

NCFF coincides with Children’s Day and lasts for two days. It was first held from November 14 to 16, 2014 at Delhi in a bid to promote making and marketing of children’s films and to concentrate on the young audience. Though it has taken place once so far, looking at the purpose and the good mix of films screened at the debut fest (Pappu Ki Pugdandi, Sunshine Barry And Disco Worms, Kaphal, Goopi Gawaiiya Bagha Bajaiiya), it is definitely a film fiesta worth attending.

Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival

It is a LGBT film festival held in Mumbai since 2010 which screens features, short films, documentaries and experimental films that highlight gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people and stories. This year the festival dates are May 27 to 31.

VIBGYOR International Film Festival

VIBGYOR is an international short and documentary film festival held in February every year since 2006 in Thrissur city, Kerala. The films screened are largely based on social and political issues around the globe. In 2015, the fest will be conducted from February 16 to 22 and focus on films related to Green Growth.

Bring Your Own Film Festival (BYOFF)

Held on the beach side of Puri (Orissa), BYOFF kicks off in February every year since 2004. Unlike other festivals filmmakers can just walk-in, register and screen their work. This informal movie fiesta is more of a forum for independent filmmakers from around the world. Apart from cinema, this festival also provides a platform for artists from music, theatre, painting, photography, sculpture, dance background and literature.

Ladakh International Film Festival (LIFF)

LIFF first happened in 2012 and was held in the mountainous town of Leh (it is the permanent fest location). What makes this fest worth a visit is experiencing world and Indian (especially made by the locals and about the locals) feature films, documentaries and shorts in the pristine beauty of the hilly region. As an audience you don’t just get to watch visual treats on the big screen but even in the surroundings (one of the purposes of the festival is to augment the socio-economic growth of Ladakh). LIFF, which is usually held towards the end of June, is chaired by Shyam Benegal and has attracted some big names of popular cinema, like Gulzar, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Vishal Bhardwaj, Jahnu Barua and Santosh Sivan.

Dharamshala International Film festival (DIFF)

DIFF was first held in 2012 and screens independent fiction, experimental, documentaries and short films. It takes places every year around October-November in the scenic location of McLeod Ganj. Once again given the exotic location of the festival DIFF is a must visit.

– Rachana Parekh

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