Dharamshala International Film Festival

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The Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) is an international film festival showcasing the best of recent Indian and world cinema, including fiction, documentaries and shorts. DIFF debuted on 1 to 4 November 2012 in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, India. The second edition was held from the 24th to the 27th October, 2013, and the third edition will be happening from the 30th of October to the 2nd of November, 2014.

The festival was conceptualized by filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam of White Crane Films as a means of bringing quality contemporary, independent cinema to the culturally diverse location of Dharamshala. DIFF will be presented through their trust White Crane Arts & Media, which promotes contemporary art, cinema and independent media practices in the Himalayan region.


As long-term residents of Dharamshala, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam have long believed that the culturally eclectic town would make an ideal location for an international film festival. Nestled in the hills of the Dhauladhar Himalayan mountain range, it is a small but cosmopolitan town populated by local Gaddis, Rajputs, Tibetan refugees and foreign expatriates from around the world. Home to the Dalai Lama and the capital of the Tibetan diaspora, Dhamashala is a unique converging point of various cultures, religions, ethnicities and languages. Sarin and Sonam aspire to establish DIFF “as a world-class film festival where filmmakers and film lovers can interact in an intimate, creative and informal way” and to “promote and encourage local filmmaking talent.”[1]

Held in a town with no cinema, the festival’s primary audience is the local Indian and Tibetan population. Addressing the lack of access to high-quality, non-commercial cinema, DIFF offers the town’s residents a window into the world of contemporary film, enriching their knowledge and understanding of other places and cultures. Apart from sharing their love for cinema, Ritu and Tenzing aim to fill the cultural gap small towns face in terms of cinema and arts.

DIFF 2012[edit]

The first edition of DIFF screened 26 feature films, shorts and documentaries from around the world, drawing over 5000 film-lovers from across India. In addition to the film screenings, the festival included panel discussions and master classes with filmmakers from India and abroad, such as Jennifer Fox, Karim El Hakim, Guy Davidi and Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni.

The 2012 edition was preceded by an international artists’ workshop jointly organized by White Crane Arts & Media and the Delhi-based Khoj International Artists’ Association held in Dharamshala from 20 October to 1 November. It also featured a live music performance by Tibetan traditional folk musicians [2]

List of films screened at DIFF 2012
Film Country Year Genre Director Duration
Miss Lovely India 2012 Drama Ashim Ahluwalia 102 min
5 Broken Cameras Palestine/Israel 2012 Documentary Emad Burnat & Guy Davidi 90 min
My Reincarnation USA 2010 Documentary Jennifer Fox 82 min
½ Revolution Denmark/Egypt 2012 Documentary Karim El Hakim & Omar Shargawi 72 min
Nostalgia for the Light Chile 2010 Documentary Patricio Guzman 90 min
Pina Germany 2011 Documentary Wim Wenders 106 min
HaHaHa South Korea 2010 Drama Hong Sang-soo 116 min
Senna UK 2010 Documentary Asif Kapadia 106 min
Oka! USA 2011 Drama Lavinia Currier 106 min
Deool India 2011 Drama Umesh Kulkarni 135 min
Gattu India 2012 Documentary Rajan Khosa 90 min
When Hari Got Married India 2012 Documentary Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam 75 min

DIFF 2013[edit]

The Second Edition of the festival was held from the 24th to the 27th October 2013. Approximately 30 fiction, documentary, short and experimental films were showcased.[3]

An unusual and exciting feature of DIFF 2013 was a series of films made by leading contemporary international artists that are rarely seen outside the gallery space, presented by the Vienna-based Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Foundation.

A sidebar showcased the best of recent short films from India, curated by noted Indian filmmaker Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni. A number of acclaimed Indian and international filmmakers and industry professionals invited to attend DIFF interacted with the audience through Q&A sessions, panel discussions and filmmaking masterclasses.[4]

List of confirmed films to be screened at DIFF 2013
Film Country Year Genre Director Duration
Gulabi Gang India 2012 Documentary Nishtha Jain 96 min
Menstrual Man India 2013 Documentary Amit Virmani 63 min
To Let The World In India 2013 Documentary Avijit Mukul Kishore 93 min
Jai Bhim Comrade India 2011 Documentary Anand Patwardhan 199 min
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry USA/China 2012 Documentary Alison Klayman 91 min
The Act of Killing Denmark/Norway/UK 2012 Documentary Joshua Oppenheimer 59 min
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer UK/Russia 2013 Documentary Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin 88 min
The Rocket Australia 2013 Drama Kim Mordaunt 96 min
Lasting Poland 2013 Drama Jacek Borcuch 95 min
With You Without You Sri Lanka 2012 Drama Prasanna Vithanage 90 min
The Strange Little Cat Germany 2013 Drama Ramon Zürcher 72 min
Fandry India 2013 Drama Nagraj Popatrao Manjule 103 min
Tasher Desh India 2012 Drama Q 112 min
Crossing Bridges India 2013 Drama Sange Dorjee Thongdok 103 min
Neighbouring Sounds Brazil 2012 Drama Kleber Mendonça Filho 131 min
Thursday till Sunday Chile/Netherlands 2012 Drama Dominga Sotomayor 96 min

DIFF 2014[edit]

The third edition of DIFF will showcase approximately 24 full-length feature films and documentaries, and a selection of short animation films, selected from the best of contemporary independent cinema, from the 30th of October to the 2nd of November.

The 2014 edition of the festival will count with 12 filmmakers from India and abroad, film critics, and industry and media personnel, to attend the festival and participate in Q&A sessions. There will also be Masterclasses and Workshops, including a Special Animation Workshop conducted by India’s leading animation filmmaker, Gitanjali Rao.

As with the previous edition of the festival, there will be a sidebar dedicated to the best of new Indian short films curated by filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni, and an additional selection of animation films from around the world curated by animation filmmaker Gitanjali Rao.

This year's festival will mark the start of the DIFF Film Fellows Programme, in which a selected number of young filmmakers from the Indian Himalayan regions will be selected to come to the festival, attend film screenings, masterclasses and workshops, and engage in one-on-one mentoring sessions with established filmmakers. Additionally, there will be special Outreach Programmes to ensure participation and involvement of local schools and colleges in the festival, as well as a Food, Arts and Crafts Fair for the duration of the festival at our main venue, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA).

See also[edit]

Official website


  1. ^ http://www.diff.co.in/about/about-diff/
  2. ^ http://www.thetibetpost.com/en/news/exile/2993-independent-film-festival-brings-inspiration-to-exile-community
  3. ^ http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-09-25/delhi/42391625_1_dharamshala-international-film-festival-diff-ritu-sarin
  4. ^ http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/dharamshala-film-festival-to-start-from-october-24-27-113092400807_1.html