The First Ever Dharamshala Film Festival- 10 Must Watch Films

Nestled in the folds of the dramatic Dhauladhar range, the globally renowned and culturally vibrant town of McLeod Ganj will host the first Dharamshala International Film Festival 2012 (DIFF 2012) from 1st to 4th November, 2012.

Conceptualized by internationally acclaimed filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam and presented through their trust, White Crane Arts & Media, the festival will showcase around 20 shortlisted feature films, shorts and documentaries, curated from the best of contemporary independent cinema. On organising the first ever International film festival at Dharamshala, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam say “We always felt that Dharamshala, being such an unusual and cosmopolitan town, would be perfect for a film festival, even though there are no cinemas there. We wanted to showcase the best of current independent cinema and create a fun and intimate event where filmmakers, film lovers and locals can get together. We’ve had a lot of support from filmmakers, producers and sales agents and have been able to put together a very interesting and eclectic program of films, with many filmmakers coming in person.”

We bring you the assortment of 10 movies not to skip at any cost at DIFF 2012 –

Dharamshala Film FestivalShahid

Dir.: Hansal Mehta (India/2012/123 mins)

The film traces the true story of slain human rights activist and lawyer Shahid Azmi. In the backdrop of communal violence that was unleashed on the city of Mumbai since 1993 we see a remarkable tale unfold. From attempting to become a terrorist to being wrongly imprisoned under a draconian anti-terrorism law to becoming a criminal lawyer, ‘Shahid’ traces the inspiring personal journey of a boy who became an unlikely messiah for human rights while following the rise of communal violence in India.

Co-produced by Anurag Kashyap, ‘Shahid’ is a deeply personal story that reflects Hansal’s anger and concern towards religious/class based/racial intolerance around  the world.

Dharamshala Film FestivalYangsi

Dir.: Mark Eliott (USA/ Documentary/ 2012/ 82 mins)

An intimate portrait of a young Tibetan who is recognized as the reincarnation of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of the most revered Tibetan Buddhist masters of the twentieth century. He is known as The Yangsi, ‘the one who has come again into existence’.

Providing a unique window into the world of Tibetan Buddhism, this film is a coming of age story with universal themes, made over a fourteen year period by Mark Elliott, an acclaimed filmmaker and long time student of Tibetan Buddhism.

Dharamshala Film Festival5 Broken Cameras

Dir.: Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi (Palestine/Israel/ Documentary/ 90 mins)

When his fourth son, Gibreel, is born, Emad, a Palestinian villager, gets his first camera. In his village, Bil’in, a separation barrier is being built and the villagers start to resist this decision. For more than five years, Emad films the struggle, which is led by two of his best friends, alongside filming how Gibreel grows. Very soon it affects his family and his own life. Daily arrests and night raids scare his family; his friends, brothers and him as well are either shot or arrested. One Camera after another is shot at or smashed; each camera tells a part of his story. It makes for an intensely powerful personal document about one village’s struggle against violence and oppression.

‘5 Broken Cameras’ won the Sundance 2012 World Documentary Directing Award.

Dharamshala Film FestivalPina Dir.: Wim Wenders (Germany/ Documentary/ 2011/ 106 mins)

Celebrating the life of the late Pina Bausch, the ground breaking German dancer and choreographer, ‘Pina’ is a sensual and visually stunning feature length documentary presenting extracts from some of her most noted dance pieces—Le sacre de printemps (The Rite of Spring), Café Muller, Kontakthof and Vollmond. The extracts, performed by the ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, are accompanied with interviews and further choreographies. The film follows the dancers out of the theatre and into the city and surrounding areas of Wuppertal, the town which for 35 years was the home of Pina Bausch’s creativity.

Highly acclaimed, the film was nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category at the 84th Academy Awards in 2012.

Dharamshala Film FestivalWhen Hari Got Married

Dir.: Ritu Sarin and Tensing Sonam Ritu Sarin and Tensing Sonam (India/Documentary/ 2012/ 75 mins)

Hari, a taxi driver in the Indian Himalaya, is getting married to a girl he has never met but with whom he has nevertheless fallen in love on the mobile phone. Outspoken, opinionated and funny, Hari grapples with nerves, heartburn and mounting tension as the day of reckoning draws close. As India rapidly modernises, dramatic changes are taking place even in his faraway village. But gods, oracles, and age-old traditions still play an important role in everyday life and come together to ensure an auspicious wedding.

Dharamshala Film FestivalMy Reincarnation

Dir.: Jennifer Fox (USA/Documentary/ 2010/ 82 mins)

For twenty years, filmmaker Jennifer Fox has been following the high Tibetan master, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche and his Italian born son, Yeshi, with her camera. The result is the astounding feature length documentary, My Reincarnation. The film results in a drama between father and son, spanning two decades and three generations. The film follows the Tibetan spiritual master Namkhai Norbu, who struggles to save his spiritual tradition, and his son, Khyentse Yeshi Namkhai (Yeshi), who stubbornly refuses to follow in the footsteps of his father. Yeshi was recognized at birth as the reincarnation of his father’s uncle, a spiritual teacher who was killed by the Chinese in Tibet. But though Yeshi craves a normal life, he cannot escape his fate.

My Reincarnation’ utilizes archival film, still photographs, and over 1,000 hours of intimate scenes shot between 1988 and 2009. Hence, the film is worth giving a shot!

Dharamshala Film Festival½ Revolution

Dir.: Karim El Hakim and Omar Shargawi (Denmark, Egypt/ Documentary/ 2012/ 72 mins)

The film is a documentary account of two filmmakers’ experiences in the streets of Cairo during the days of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. As waves of protests escalate in their neighborhood next to Tahrir Square, directors Omar Shargawi and Karim El Hakim take to the streets to capture the historical events unfolding around them. But as the violence and uncertainty builds, Karim and his young family’s apartment becomes an epicenter of activity as worried friends and neighbors flock together in a bid to survive the counter punches thrown by police and the armed gangs of pro-Mubarak thugs swarming the streets under their balcony.


‘½ Revolution’ is an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival 2012.

Dharamshala Film FestivalJose and Pilar

Dir.: Miguel Goncalves Mendes (Portugal/ Documentary/ 2010/ 90 mins) The film is based on the last years of the Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago, chiefly through his relationship with his resolute wife, Pilar del Rio. It gathers sequences from Madrid to Helsinki to Rio de Janeiro and covers Jose and Pilar’s life in Lanzarote, their trips around the world (presenting José’s books, signing autographs, making speeches) and their most simple, transient and quotidian moments, as for during the period José writes his “The Elephant Journey”.

The film won the Audience Award in the Sao Paulo Film Festival 2010, and is featured in 5 Best Films by Time Out, Portugal.

Dharamshala Film FestivalMarina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present

Dir.: Mathew Akers (UK/ Documentary/ 2012/ 104 mins)

Seductive, fearless, and outrageous, Marina Abramović has been redefining what art is for nearly 40 years. Using her own body as a vehicle, pushing herself beyond her limits – and at times risking her life in the process – she creates performances that challenge, shock, and move us. ‘Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present’ follows the artist as she prepares for what may be the most important moment of her life: a major new retrospective of her work, taking place at The Museum of Modern Art. To be given a retrospective at one of the world’s premier museums is the most exhilarating sort of milestone. For Marina, it is far more: it is the chance to finally silence the question she has been hearing over and over again for four decades: “But why is this art?”

The film won ‘Panorma Audience Award’ at Berlin International Film Festival 2012 and is nominated for ‘Grand Jury Award’ at Sundance Film festival 2012.

Dharamshala Film FestivalNostalgia for the Light

Dir.: Patricio Guzmán (Chile/ Documentary/ 2010/ 90 mins)

Filmed in the remote, pristine Atacama Desert, Patricio Guzman’s stunning documentary follows apparently disparate groups of people each searching for profound answers in this arid landscape. While astronomers observe the stars and search for the origins of the universe, archaeologists sift through the desert soil to look for remnants of human civilizations. Meanwhile, decades on, wives and sisters continue their daunting search for the remains of their loved ones “disappeared” by the Chilean army after the 1973 coup.

The film won Best Documentary Awards at European Film Festival 2010, International Documentary Association 2011, and Toronto Film Critics Association Awards 2011 besides many nominations.

For a movie buff, only 10 films are not enough! For those wanting to watch more, Lavinia Currier’s ‘Oka!’ will be a thrilling experience as the film sets on the adventurous journey to the forests of Central Africa while a feature length Tibetan documentary called ‘Summer Pasture’ will lead you to a new exploration of Tibetan lifestyle. Directed by Lynn True, Nelson Walker and Tsering Perlo, ‘Summer Pasture’ is an intimate glimpse into the experiences of a young Tibetan family struggling to reconcile their traditional way of life with a rapidly modernizing world. Other line up of films such as Korean film ‘Hahaha’ directed by Hong Sang-soo, Chinese documentary ‘China Heavyweight’ directed by Yung Chang, Dain Said’s ‘Bunohan (Return to Murder)’ and Asif Kapadia’s documentary ‘Senna’ would add to your film experience at Dharamshala.

The only animated film at the festival, ‘Journey to Nagaland’ directed by Aditi Chitre is also not to be missed. Aditi Chitre will also be holding master classes for animation. Among Indian films, Marathi film ‘Deol’ by Umesh Kulkarni, Dibaker Banerjee’s ‘Shanghai’, Karan Gaur’s ‘Kshay’, Ashim Ahluwalia’s ‘Miss Lovely’ and Rajan Khosa’s ‘Gattu’ are also must watch. Acclaimed filmmakers like Asif Kapadia, Deepti Naval, Umesh Kulkarni, Karim El Hakim, Jennifer Fox, Hansal Mehta and Guy Davidi will be present at the festival to showcase their films as well as participate in panel discussions on topics like The New Wave of Indian Cinema and Films From The Frontline.

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Enjoy watching movies!

The First Ever Dharamshala Film Festival- 10 Must Watch Films