Actor Prateek Babbar and Basharat Peer (the acclaimed Indian Kashmiri journalist and script writer of Haider) were spotted among the film enthusiasts who came from across the country to attend DIFF 2016

The day 1 of the 5th edition of Dharamshala International Film Festival  (DIFF) 2016 kicked off with the screening of three Children’s films including Hardik Mehta’s National award winner, Amdavad Ma Famous, Nina Sabnani’s Hum Chitra Banatey Hain, Kristof Deak’s Hungarian film Sing.

Children’s Media Specialist, Monica Wahi, programmed the films, which were screened to a packed house of school kids.

Talking about the fabulous audience response, Monica Wahi says, “They were overwhelmed because they felt like they have gone through a journey like this for the first time. They loved this experience.

The film enthusiasts who came from all over the country to attend DIFF feasted on diverse movies such as Sean McAllister’s A Syrian Love Story (UK), Himachali language film, Mane de Phere (Circles Of The Mind), Rajeev Ravi’s Malayalam gangsterepic, Kammatipaadam and Polish film, Brothers.

A syrian love story-

Still from “A Syrian Love Story”

The films featured in the Kangra Valley section including local Dharamshala director and National , 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 were screened on day 1 and were a big hit among the local audience.

Two films, Sean McAllister’s A Syrian Love Story (UK) and Polish film, Brothers had their Indian premiere at DIFF.

Another documentary film from Ladakh, The Shepherdess Of The Glaciers had a full house audience.

Delighted with the response, director Stanzin Dorjai Gya (The Shepherdess of the Glaciers) said, “ When I got inside the hall, I saw that it was packed and I was speechless. I didn’t think I will receive such a reaction in my own country because people think that such documentaries are slow.” 

Mane De Phere’s director Sanjeev Kumar said, “The reaction was really nice. The audience related to the issue.”

Adding to it, he said, “The quality of DIFF has increased over these years and this is the only festival in Himachal Pradeesh I feel which has an international standard.”

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“Mane De Phere” director Sanjeev Kumar

Winding up the 1st day, founder-director Ritu Sarin said, “We’ve had amazing audiences today who are really interested in independent cinema. It’s really heart warming to see that.”

The four days film festival is being held at TCV, McLeodganj, Dharamshala from 3-6 November 2016.

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).

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.

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Steffi Giaracuni on Day 1 of DIFF 2016

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).

Mane De Phere-

Still from “Mane De Phere”

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.

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Sean McAllister on Day 1 at DIFF 2016

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.

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.

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Prateek Babbar with kids at DIFF 2016- Day 1

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.

5th Dharamshala International Film Festival kicked off with diverse films
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5th Dharamshala International Film Festival kicked off with diverse films
The day 1 of the 5th edition of Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) 2016 kicked off with the screening of three Children’s films including Hardik Mehta’s National award winner, Amdavad Ma Famous, Nina Sabnani’s Hum Chitra Banatey Hain, Kristof Deak’s Hungarian film Sing.