The 6th Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) 2017 concluded with a screening of Rima Das’ Village Rockstars. The film was screened to a packed house as audiences turned in up in large numbers to watch the much talked about movie.
The day began with a screening of Claude Barras’ My Life As A Zucchini, the stop motion animated feature which was extremely well received by the audiences. It also included a screening of Suresh Eriyat’s stop motion animated short Tokri that was created using clay models. This was followed by a screening of Alain Gsponer’s Heidi.
These films which were a part of the Children’s Film Programme curated by children’s media specialist Monica Wahi saw a large turnout of kids who were very happy to watch these films.
The other crowd pleasers of the day included Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Angamaly Diaries and Yoshinori Sato’s Her Mother.
The final day of the festival also saw the screening of the Shorts Selection which was curated by noted filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni (Highway, Deool). The selection included Devashish Makhija’s Taandav, Shailaja Padindala’s Memories Of A Machine, Risheeta Agrawal’s Naughty Amelia Jane and Abhishek Verma’s Maacher Jhol.
Indian Indie films have been an integral part of the DIFF lineup since its inaugural edition in 2012. A Panel discussion titled The State of Independents saw an exciting new crop of Indian Indie filmmakers share their views on the contemporary Indian indie movement.
The panel was moderated by Tanaji Dasgupta, the producer of The Hungry and included filmmakers Konkona Sen Sharma (A Death In The Gunj), Rima Das (Village Rockstars), Bornila Chatterjee (The Hungry) and Sayani Gupta (The Hungry), Pushpendra Singh (Ashwatthamma), Karma Takapa (Ralang Road) and Ektara Collective (Turup)~
Director Rima Das was extremely happy with the response received by Village Rockstars at the festival and said, “I am really delighted to be at the Dharamshala International Film Festival. It was really encouraging to see the response received by the film and meet such an enthusiastic audience. It is an experience which I will cherish forever.”
Summing up this year’s edition of the festival, founder-director Ritu Sarin said, “The participation of a large number of Indian indie filmmakers has made us believe that independent cinema is truly alive. We are looking forward to the future editions of the festival with much hope. We also had a children’s section in which they enthusiastically participated in all the activities and enjoyed the process. So that was also a very special experience.”
This year’s line-up included two award-winning documentaries—Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson (USA, 2016), Rahul Jain’s Machines (India, 2016) which screened at 10 international film festivals, and won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Excellence in Cinematography at 2017’s Sundance Film Festival.
DIFF 2017 also featured the Indian premiere of Out of This World (USA), a newly restored version of journalist and writer Lowell Thomas’ fascinating account of his travels to Tibet in 1949 (originally released in 1954).
This year’s feature films included Dain Said’s Interchange (Malaysia, 2016), Yaniv Berman’s Land of the Little People (Israel, 2016), Dechen Roder’s Honeygiver Among the Dogs (Bhutan, 2016), Yoshinori Sato’s Her Mother (Japan), Mano Khalil’s The Swallow (Switzerland), Karma Takapa’s Ralang Road, which premiered at this year’s Karlovy Vary Film Festival (an Indian film to be selected at the fest after 13 years), and Deepak Rauniyar’s Oscar entry from Nepal, White Sun which premiered at 73rd Venice Film Festival and won Interfilm Award and new voices/new visions grand jury prize at the Palm Springs festival.
DIFF continued its tradition of showcasing experimental films by presenting the South Asia premieres of three features by well-known artists and filmmakers: Amar Kanwar’s Such a Morning (India), and Naeem Mohaiemen’s Tripoli Cancelled (Bangladesh), both of which premiered this year at Documenta 14; and Singapore filmmaker Tan Pin Pin’s In Time to Come, which had its world premiere at Visions du Reel and was in competition at Hot Docs and Sheffield Doc Fest.
This year’s shorts selection was curated by filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni, whilst our Children’s Film Programme was curated by children’s media specialist Monica Wahi.
DIFF is presented by White Crane Arts & Media, a trust founded by veteran filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam to promote contemporary cinema, art and independent media practices in the Himalayan regions of India.
This year’s festival was once again supported by its long-term partners, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, and the Government of Himachal Pradesh through its departments of Tourism, and Language, Arts, and Culture.
The first edition of DIFF was held in 2012. Since then, it has become established as one of India’s leading independent film festivals. DIFF’s cutting-edge and eclectic programming, which includes many India premieres, and its policy of inviting as many directors as possible, has made it one of the ‘go-to’ events in any cinephile’s calendar. At DIFF 2016, hundreds of cinema enthusiasts from across India and the world converged to watch films and discuss the state of modern cinema—whilst some of India’s best-known film critics and journalists were on hand to cover the event.