The day 2 of the 5th Dharamshala International Film Festival  (DIFF) 2016 saw the screening of eclectic features, shorts and documentaries.

Presented in collaboration with Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, the festival is also supported by the Himachal Pradesh government and the National Film Development Corporation of India.

The day started on a high note with the screening of five interesting Indian shorts programmed by Umesh Kulkarni including Chaitanya Tamhane’s Six Strands, Gurvinder Singh’s Ghuspaithiya, Payal Sethi’s Leeches, Nishant Roy Bombarde’s The Threshold, Siddharth Chauhan’s Papa.

Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s  docu-feature Sonita (Iran), which made an Indian premiere at DIFF, received a standing ovation from the full house audience. Other crowd puller films were Boo Junfeng’s acclaimed Singapore prison drama, Apprentice, nominated as Singapore’s Oscar entry for the foreign language film, Asian premiere of Tenzin Dasel’s Royal Café and Bauddhayan Mukherji’s dark Hindi comedy, The Violin Player.

Sonita -

Standing ovation for Sonita

The director of A Syrian Love Story (UK) Sean McAllister conducted a master class, attended the audience, which included independent filmmakers, critics, local audience, tourists and movie aficionados.

Saibal Chatterjee moderated a panel discussion on the topic “Cinema India: Voices From The Non Hindi Mainstream” with Umesh Kulkarni (Maharshtra), Girish Kulkarni, Bauddhayan Mukherji’s (Mumbai), Chittranjan Giri (protagonist of Lathe Joshi) and Sanjeev Kumar (Himachal Pradesh).

Concluding the second day with happiness, Founder-director Tenzing Sonam said, “We have had a fantastic audience and the filmmakers are so happy with the response”

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

Masterclass with Sean Mcallister

Masterclass with Sean Mcallister

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.

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).

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 Oscar entry for the foreign language film; and exile Tibetan filmmaker Tenzin Dasel’s short docu-fiction,  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, KammatipaadamUmesh Kulkarni’s Mumbai-to-Pune road movie, Highway; and Bauddhayan Mukherji’s dark Hindi comedy, The Violin Player.

Still from Apprentice

Still from Apprentice

The programme spotlights a Kangra Valley section which includes local Dharamshala director, Sanjeev Kumar’s Gaddi language feature, Mane de PherePrabhjit 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.

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.