A bouquet of independent films and documentaries from India and countries like France, the US, Japan, Finland, Israel, Switzerland and Russia will enthrall movie aficionados at the fourth edition of Dharamsala International Film Festival (DIFF), which starts in this picturesque Himachal Pradesh hill station on Thursday.
Organised by filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam in the scenic locales of Dharamsala here, the four-day offbeat and independent film festival will build on the hallmarks that have given the festival its reputation of showcasing an eclectic mix of independent films, documentaries, shorts and animation films from India and around the world.
“In places like Dharamsala and other small towns in India, people don’t have the opportunity to watch many films that are not mainstream Bollywood or Hollywood. Of course, cinema is much more than mainstream. Our tagline is ‘bringing independent cinema to the mountains’,” Sonam told.
Their mix of documentaries and fictional features will make this edition “better” than the previous ones.
“We have such a wonderful place where filmmakers and audience can interact and people also get to know about independent cinema and films.
“We watch hundreds of films every year and try to pick the ones that will have special connect with our audience. We want to showcase films which have meaningful subjects and can have positive impact on viewers. Last year, around 5,000 people watched the films at the gala, and this in a town with not many cinema halls,” Sarin told.
Starting with filmmaker Kanu Behl’s directorial debut “Titli”, which was screened as part of the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes International Film Festival 2014, a total of 37 films will be screened at DIFF this year. Of these, 14 are Indian movies.
Behl, along with the film’s lead actor Ranvir Shorey, will grace the screening of the film on the opening night on Thursday.
This will be followed by a list of internationally acclaimed documentaries and films like Burmese director The Maw Naing’s “The Monk”, Japanese director Kaoru Ikeya’s “Lung Ta”, Swiss director Dodo Hunziker’s “Tibetan Warrior” and Bhutanese director Dechen Roder’s “Lo Sum Choe Sum”.
Some other international filmmakers who will greet the audience during the festival include Anka Schmid, who will attend DIFF 2015 for the Asian premiere of her documentary, “Wild Women – Gentle Beasts”, Tetsuichiro Tsuta, for the Indian premiere of “The Tale of Iya” and Israeli director Talya Lavie, who will present her film “Zero Motivation”.
From the Indian turf, DIFF 2015 will feature National Award winning director Gurvinder Singh’s Cannes-acclaimed film “Chauthi Koot”, Bhaskar Hazarika’s Assamese film “Kothanodi”, Abhay Kumar’s documentary “Placebo”, Prashant Nair’s “Umrika” and Ruchika Oberoi’s “Island City”, which garnered appreciation at the 72nd Venice Film Festival earlier this year.
This year, the festival will also launch a new programme Reel Neverland, specifically tailored for younger audiences. Under this, a range of animated and live action children films from around the globe will be screened.
These will include Russian short film “About a Mother” by Dina Velikovskayato, Brazilian director Ale Abreu’s “The Boy and The World”, Olivier Ringer’s “Birds of Passage”, Astrid Bussink’s “Giovanni and the Water Ballet” and Jury Feting’s “Celestial Camel”.
To conclude the movie gala, director Neeraj Ghaywan along with screenwriter and lyricist Varun Grover will attend the screening of their multiple award-winning independent film “Masaan”, which has been appreciated worldwide. There will also be a special session “Making Masaan”, where they will take viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the movie.
Apart from that, panel discussions and sessions with filmmakers will provide insights into independent filmmaking. “The New Indian Indie” panel discussion will feature Indian filmmakers like Ruchika Oberoi, Kanu Behl, Gurvinder Singh, Abhay Kumar and Bhaskar Hazarika.
Another panel discussion, “Film and the Female Gaze”, will consist of four women filmmakers from four different countries: Anka Schmid (Switzerland), Dechen Roder (Bhutan), Talya Lavie (Israel), and Ruchika Oberoi (India).
Keeping aside all glitz and glamour, just like its previous editions, this year too DIFF aims at showcasing “meaningful subject” and films that can “awake the audience and motivate them to do welfare of the society,” concluded Sonam.
(By Sandeep Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])