The first day of the 6th edition of Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) 2018 kicked off on a grand note with an inauguration ceremony and the screening of Namdev Bhau: In Search Of Silence which was presented by its director Dar Gai.
The four-day festival is being held from 1st to 4th November 2018 in the peaceful environs of the Tibetan Children’s Village, a short distance from McLeodGanj. Along with the two existing auditoriums at the school, this year DIFF is excited to partner with Delhi-based Picture Time to set up a mobile digital theatre with state-of-the-art projection facilities at the festival venue.
Also present at the opening ceremony was actor Manoj Bajpayee whose film Bhonsle is being screened at the festival. The actor is also doing a Special Programme at the festival called ‘Manoj Bajpayee And The Art Of Acting’ in which he will be talking about journey and evolution as an actor with renowned film critic and writer Aseem Chhabra.
The opening day also included a screening of Shubhashish Bhutiani’s National Award winning short film Kush which was attended by the students who were selected for this year’s edition of DIFF’s Film Appreciation Competition Course.
The 27 students which were selected for the competition previously participated in outreach workshops, where they were encouraged to actively discuss cinema.
The screening of Kush was followed by a group discussion which was moderated by children’s film specialist Monica Wahi and a final assignment given to all the participants.
This year at DIFF, the screenings are being conducted for the first ever time through Digital Cinema Projection and in Dolby Surround Sound. DIFF has also partnered with the Delhi-based entity Picture Time to set up a mobile digital theatre with state-of-the-art projection facilities at the festival venue.
The inaugural ceremony of the festival saw director Dar Gai address an enthusiastic audience who had turned up in large numbers on the opening day of the festival.
The opening day saw a talented bunch of children from the Tibetan Children’s Village School sing Tibetan songs. This was followed by the announcement of the winners of the Children’s Film Appreciation. The winners from the Junior Category were Anushka from Government High School Kotwali Bazaar and Menda Rewa from Petoen Model School. While the winners from the Senior Category were Tenzin Kun-Sang from Upper TCV School and Anand Waghmare of Tong-Len Hostel and School. The awards were presented by Manoj Bajpayee.
A jury comprising of Monica Wahi, noted film critic and writer Aseem Chhabra and poet Tenzing Tsundue had selected the winner of DIFF’s Film Appreciation Course.
This was followed by a screening of Namdev Bhau: In Search Of Silence and a post screening Q&A in which director Dar Gai enthusiastically answered the varied questions that were posed to her by the audience.
Director Dar Gai whose film Namdev Bhau: In Search Of Silence opened the festival said, “Me and my entire team is extremely proud and happy that our film has opened this year’s edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival. I have been hearing about this festival for so long. Most of the people I know think it’s one of the coolest festivals and I have always wanted to come here. My film is a mountain film set in Ladakh and there could be no better festival to screen this film. I think Namdev Bhau has finally found his silence.”
Summing up day 1 of the festival, founder-director Ritu Sarin said, “It’s really exciting to conduct the 7th edition of The Dharamshala International Film Festival. We have a really special kind of audience that attends the festival and really loves cinema and understands the nuances of Independent filmmaking.
We are also excited to have Digital Cinema Projection and Dolby Sound for the first ever time at the festival. We also have a lot of new initiatives such as the Spotlight On Filmmakers From Himachal, the first Dharamshala PJLF Editing Workshop, Film Appreciation Course for children that focus on filmmaking and film appreciation.”
DIFF 2018 Complete Lineup
Opening and Closing Films
Dar Gai’s Namdev Bhau: In Search of Silence will open and Aijaz Khan’s Hamid will close the 7th edition of Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) 2018. Both directors will be present.
Celebs and Filmmakers attending
Manoj Bajpayee – the lead actor of Bhonsle, and internationally renowned photographer Raghu Rai will be attending the festival along with his filmmaker daughter Avani Rai for her debut documentary, Raghu Rai: An Unframed Portrait.
Indian feature film directors Aijaz Khan, Anamika Haksar, Devashish Makhija, Ridham Janve and Priya Ramasubban will be present.
International filmmakers attending the festival include Tashi Gyeltshen (Bhutan), Dar Gai (Ukraine), Mathieu Roy (Canada), Hiroshi Sunairi (Japan) and Luc Schaedler (Switzerland).
Indian short filmmakers Siddharth Chauhan, Sudha Padmaja Francis, Mukul Haloi, Rishi Chandna, Tarun Jain, Raghbir Singh Toor, Natesh Hagde, Abhijeet Phartiyal, Divya Unny, Pia Shah and Ajitpal Singh will also be present.
Complete Line Up
The DIFF 2018 lineup includes Indian fiction and documentary features: Bhonsle, Ee.Ma.Yau, Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon, The Gold-Laden Sheep and the Sacred Mountain, Ma•ama, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s The Sweet Requiem, Namdev Bhau: In Search of Silence, and Raghu Rai: An Unframed Portrait, and international fiction and documentary features: 48 Years: Silent Dictator, A Long Way Home, Bamboo Dogs, Boom for Real, The Dispossessed, Father to Son, House of My Fathers, In the Intense Now, Little Forest, Namme, Of Fathers and Sons, The Red Phallus, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, and Waru.
Short Films include: Amma Meri, Eye Test, Khurafat, Letter To Home, Namage Navu Godege Mannu, Pashi, Sakhisona, The Open Door, Tungrus and Two Brothers.
Children’s Films include: two features Chuskit, Cross My Heart, and 4 shorts Abu Adnan’s Adnan’s Father, Beauty, Hadia (The Gift), Rammat Gammat.
The Indian Programming highlights at the festival include Devashish Makhija’s Bhonsle, Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Ee.Ma.Yau, Ridham Janve’s Gaddi-language feature film The Gold-Laden Sheep and the Sacred Mountain, Dominic Sangma’s Garo language film Ma’ama, Aijaz Khan’s Hamid and documentaries like Raghu Rai: An Unframed Portrait by Avani Rai, Asia Premiere of Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s The Sweet Requiem which has its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018 and Anamika Haksar’s Ghode ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon.
The International Programming highlights at the festival include the Indian Premieres of Hiroshi Sunairi’s 48 Years: Silent Dictator (Japan), Sara Driver’s Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years Of Jean-Michel Basquiat, TIFF 2017 Official Selection Waru (New Zealand), Tashi Gyeltshen’s The Red Phallus (Won the FIPRESCI at Busan), Zaza Khalvashi’s Namme (official entry to the Oscars from Georgia), and screenings of Yim Soon- Rye’s Little Forest (Korea), Hsiao Ya Chuan’s Father To Son (Taiwan), Matheiu Roy’s The Dispossessed and the documentaries Boom For Now (Sarah Driver, USA), In the Intense Now (João Moreira Salles, Brazil), A Long Way Home (Luc Scheadler, Switzerland), The Beksińskis. A Sound And Picture Album (Marcin Borchardt, Poland) and Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda (Stephen Nomura Schible, USA/Japan).
DIFF Children’s Film Programme
The popular DIFF Children’s Film Programme is once again curated by Children’s Media Specialist, Monica Wahi and the line-up includes two award-winning features, Chuskit (Priya Ramasubban, India) and Cross My Heart (Luc Picard, Canada), and four internationally acclaimed shorts, Rammat Gammat (Ajitpal Singh, India), Hadia the Gift (Sinem Sakaogl, Germany/Turkey), Adnan’s Father (Abu Adnan, Denmark) and Beauty (Christina Willings, Canada).
Shorts at DIFF
DIFF has always recognized the importance of short films as a category in its own right and for the fifth year in a row, filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni has curated a selection of ten shorts including Tungrus and Eye Test. Besides this, DIFF is partnering with Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films to present a package of short films.
The Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films package includes the short films Her First Time (Divya Unny), Shame (Anusha Bose), Syaahi (Varun Tandon), Tyson (Sanjay Bhatia) and Waterbaby (Pia Shah).
New Initiative: First Dharamshala PJLF Editing Workshop
This year, DIFF is thrilled to host the first Dharamshala PJLF Editing Workshop, an initiative supported by NFDC. The two selected projects are Where the Winds Blow by Director Karma Takapa and Editor Anadi Athaley, and 4Sum by Director Neeraj Gwal and Editor Rishiraj Bhattacharya. A third project, Chola, directed and edited by Sanal Sasidharan, was unanimously recommended by the selection committee and will receive editing consultation from the mentors. The projects will be mentored by internationally renowned editor Jacques Comets who co-headed the editing department at France’s leading film school, La Femis, along with editor and Artistic Director of the Kerala International Film Festival, Bina Paul and producer and script/editing mentor Olivia Stewart.
Panels at DIFF
#MeToo and Independent Cinema – a panel discussion with filmmaker Anamika Haksar (Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Jaa Riya Hoon), writer-critic Trisha Gupta and editor and IFFK director Bina Paul on dealing with sexual harassment within the Indian Indie film industry will be held at DIFF this year.
The panel will also discuss on how to gather appropriate responses to the various testimonies of assault and harassment that are now coming out from the Indian Film Industry. Besides this it will also talk about generating internal processes, mechanisms for accountability, reporting and dealing with incidences of sexual harassment within the Indian indie film industry.
‘Manoj Bajpayee And The Art Of Acting’ will see the actor Manoj Bajpayee talk about his journey and evolution as an actor with renowned film critic and author Aseem Chhabra. In the course of the conversation, the actor will revisit his journey from his early days in theatre, his journey and the process he undergoes every time while he enacts a character.
No Shortcuts is a special programme at DIFF this year, where producer and mentor Olivia Stewart will share insights on importance of a good script and editing, in making of independent films. She will also talk about her association with recent Indian independent films like Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox, Kanu Bahl’s Titli, Gurvinder Singh’s Chauthi Koot, Miransha Naik’s Juze and Rima Das’ Village Rockstars.
Olivia will be joined by internationally acclaimed editor James Comets who has worked on several award-winning films from Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia.
The conversation will be moderated by Bina Paul, editor and also the artistic director of the Kerala International Film Festival.
Workshops at DIFF
This year DIFF is hosting two workshops – Crowdfunding 101 with Wishberry and Quark Workshop.
Held by Wishberry – India’s largest crowdfunding platform for filmmakers, The Crowdfunding 101 with Wishberry workshop will help filmmakers to learn the tips and tricks of crowdfunding and how it can be used to finance their films.
The Quark Workshop is a workshop on 4K filmmaking, presented by Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl – National Award-Winning filmmakers (Cotton For My Shroud, Candles In The Wind) and the founders of Quark Workshops.
The workshop will cover various aspects of 4K filmmaking including making 4K films with a still camera, demonstrations with lenses, filters and gear, and practical sessions on light, audio and high frame rates.
Each day of the workshop will be followed by a Q&A.
DIFF Film Fellows initiative
Five filmmakers from Himachal Pradesh, Rahat Mahajan, Aman Sharma, Mrinalini Singha, Vaasu Soni and Kesang Thakur will be mentored by renowned National Award-winning filmmaker Gurvinder Singh and award-winning documentary filmmaker Anupama Srinivasan in this year’s edition of the DIFF Film Fellow initiative. The initiative, started in 2014, is supported by the HP Government’s Department of Language, Arts and Culture, and this year focuses specially on filmmakers from Himachal Pradesh.
Spotlight on Himachal
Riddham Janve’s Gaddi language debut feature, The Gold-Laden Sheep and the Sacred Mountain and Shimla-based filmmaker Siddharth Chauhan’s short film, Pashi, shot in Himachal Pradesh, are part of this year’s Spotlight on Himachal.
DIFF’s Community Outreach Programme
This year marks DIFF’s third full fledged community outreach programme, in which they are holding carefully curated independent film screenings and activities on the doorsteps of Dharamshala’s diverse populations as well as drawing local audiences into the main festival. The outreach programme included Community Screenings, Film Appreciation Competition and Children’s and Colleges Programmes
Community Screenings – In September and October this year, DIFF partnered with Jagori Rural Charitable Trust and the National Film Development Corporation to show feature and short films at 20 locations including five Gaddi villages, six schools and colleges and Dharamshala Jail. The short films selected included Kush, Little Hands, The School Bag and Juice. The feature films included Mukti Bhawan and Turup.
The audiences which included children from the age of five and senior adults also engaged in post screening discussions.
Film Appreciation Competition – This year’s Schools Film appreciation commenced with an initial assignment for students from six schools to write about their favourite movies. Subsequently 27 participants were selected to participate in outreach wokshops, where they were encouraged to actively discuss cinema.
Children’s and Colleges’ Programmes – As a part of DIFF’s broader mission to develop a cinema culture in the Dharamshala area, local school and college students have been invited to attend this year’s edition of the festival.
DIFF is presented by White Crane Arts & Media, a trust founded by filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam to promote contemporary cinema, art and independent media practices in the Himalayan regions of India.
The first edition of DIFF was held in 2012. Since then, it has established itself 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. Last year, the films and side programmes at DIFF attracted a viewership of around 6000, of which at least 60% were from out of town from places as far away as Kerala, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Some of India’s best-known film critics and journalists from leading media houses were on hand to cover the event.
This year, for the third time in a row, the festival was held in the peaceful environs of the Tibetan Children’s Village, a short distance from McLeod Ganj. Along with the two existing auditoriums at the school, this year DIFF had partnered with Delhi-based Picture Time to set up a mobile digital theatre with state-of-the-art projection facilities at the festival venue.