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 24 to 27 October 2013. The third edition took place from 30 October to 2 November 2014. The fourth edition was held from 5 to 8 November 2015. This year, the festival will take place from 3 to 6 November 2016.

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 27 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 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 showcased 27 full-length feature films and documentaries, and a selection of short animation films, selected from the best of contemporary independent cinema, from 30 October to 2 November 2014.

The 2014 edition of the festival counted 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 were also Masterclasses and Workshops, including a Special Animation Workshop conducted by India’s leading animation filmmaker, Gitanjali Rao.

This edition marked the start of the DIFF Film Fellows Programme, in which a selected number of young filmmakers from the Indian Himalayan regions were 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 were 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 DIFF's main venue, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA).

List of confirmed feature films to be screened at DIFF 2014
Film Country Year Genre Director Duration
Ankhon Dekhi India 2013 Narrative Rajat Kapoor 107 min
CityLights India 2014 Narrative Hansal Mehta 126 min
Court India 2014 Narrative Chaitanya Tamhane 116 min
Eat Sleep Die Sweden 2012 Narrative Gabriela Pichler 100 min
Killa India 2014 Narrative Avinash Arun 105 min
Liar's Dice India 2013 Narrative Geetu Mohandas 103 min
Omar Palestine 2013 Narrative Hany Abu-Assad 97 min
Only Lovers Left Alive UK, Germany, Greece 2013 Narrative Jim Jarmusch 123 min
Papusza Poland 2013 Narrative Joanna Kos-Krauze & Krzysztof Krauze 131 min
Remote Control Mongolia, Germany, USA 2013 Narrative Byamba Sakhya 90 min
Sunrise India, France 2014 Narrative Partho Sen-Gupta 85 min
Vara: A Blessing Bhutan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka 2013 Narrative Khyentse Norbu 96 min
Zinda Bhaag Pakistan 2013 Narrative Meenu Gaur & Farjad Nabi 114 min
A Gesar Bard's Tale Finland 2013 Documentary Donagh Coleman & Lharigtso 82 min
A World Not Ours Palestine, Lebanon, UAE 2012 Documentary Mandi Fleifel 93 min
Bringing Tibet Home South Korea, USA 2013 Documentary Tenzin Tsetan Choklay 82 min
Cambodian Son Cambodia 2014 Documentary Masahiro Sugano 90 min
Chimeras Finland 2013 Documentary Mika Mattila 87 min
Nabarun India 2014 Documentary Q 83 min
Nirnay India 2012 Documentary Pushpa Rawat 56 min
Return to Homs Germany, Syrian Arab Republic 2013 Documentary Talal Derki 94 min
The Beekeeper Switzerland 2013 Documentary Mano Khalil 107 min
The Dossier China 2014 Documentary Zhu Rikun 128 min
The Last Adieu India 2013 Documentary Shabnam Sukhdev 90 min
The Square USA 2013 Documentary Jehane Noujaim 95 min
To Singapore, with Love Singapore 2013 Documentary Tan Pin Pin 70 min
Watermarks: Three Letters from China Switzerland 2013 Documentary Luc Schaedler 80 min

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.

Indian short films include:

  • Border Patrol by Peter Baumann
  • Call it Slut by Nishtha Jain
  • Ika by Raam Reddy
  • Little Hands by Rohin Raveendran Nair
  • Tamaash by Satyanshu Singh & Devanshu
  • Three of Us by Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni.

Animation films include:

  • Dreams and Desires - Family Ties by Joanna Quinn
  • El Canto by Ines Sedan
  • L'Homme Qui Dort by Ines Sedan
  • La Femme Squelette by Sarah Van Den Boom
  • La Gallina Ciega by Isabel Herguera
  • Mani's Dying by Shilpa Ranade
  • Naayo by Saheb Ram Tudu
  • Naja Goes to School by Shilpa Ranade
  • Printed Rainbow by Gitanjali Rao
  • Tanko Bole Chhe by Nina Sabnani
  • TrueLoveStory by Gitanjali Rao
  • Goopi Gawaiya, Bagha Bajaiya by Shilpa Ranade (an excerpt of this feature animation film)

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