In its seventh edition, the Dharamshala International Film Festival, which gets underway here on Thursday, will have a bouquet of 46 films with a focus on those from Himachal Pradesh, apart from having a panel discussion on the #MeToo movement in India.
“We definitely show the solidarity with the movement but we would like to discuss the aftermath of the movement as well and how it is impacting our cinema. If a director has done something, it does not mean producer should suffer or vice versa. We will discuss the complexities of the movement,” Ritu Sarin, filmmaker and Festival director of DIFF, told IANS.
In the wake of the #MeToo storm, Ere Gowda’s Balekempa has been dropped from the line-up as Gowde was accused of sexual harassment. Instead, Aijaz Khan’s narrative feature Hamid that centres around a little boy’s search for answers in Kashmir, will now close the seventh edition of DIFF.
Taking place in the scenic locale of Dharamsala here, the four-day gala will be held from November 1-4.
There will be a mix of independent short films, features and documentaries, with a special focus specifically on up-and-coming filmmakers from Himachal Pradesh.
For the first time, a Dharamshala PJLF Editing Workshop 2018 will be held in association with the Paddy and Joan Leigh Fermor Arts Fund, to encourage editors in the independent cinema market.
Even the public will get a chance to learn valuable filmmaking techniques at the festival as there will be workshops for crowdfunding and 4-D digital filmmaking.
“DIFF has grown beyond our expectations. It attracts a lot of young people who are interested in films. I am proud to be a part of the festival as there is a need to promote young independent filmmakers and DIFF has already started filling that gap,” added Sarin.
The gala will open with Dar Gai’s Namdev Bhau In Search of Silence, an endearing tale of a 65-year-old chauffeur on a journey of self-discovery.
This will be followed by feature narratives, including filmmaker Devashish Makhija’s Bhonsle, Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Ee.Ma.Yau, Anamika Haksar’s Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon, Ridham Janve’s The Gold-Laden Sheep & the Sacred Mountain and Dominic Sangma’s Ma•ama.
Also, India’s veteran photographer Raghu Rai will attend the event as his filmmaker daughter Avani Rai’s documentary “Raghu Rai: An Unframed Portrait” will be screened at the gala.
Apart from Raghu Rai, celebrities like Manoj Bajpayee, Anamika Haksar, Devashish Makhija and Ridham Janve. Also in attendance will be international filmmakers such as Tashi Gyeltshen (Bhutan), Dar Gai (Ukraine), Mathieu Roy (Canada), Hiroshi Sunairi (Japan) and Luc Schaedler (Switzerland).
As for short films, filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni has curated a selection of ten shorts including “Tungrus” and “Eye Test”, which will be featured at DIFF.
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 at the fest.
The festival has also started a volunteer programme, in which 80 students from across the country have come to be a part of the fest.
Sarin said: “It is such a small festival, but it surprises me how people from all over the country have come here just to witness it. Students from Kerala, Aurangabad and from other areas have come to Dharamsala on their own just to volunteer for us. It feels good to see the kind of impact of our festival on people, especially the youth.”
DIFF 2018 will also focus on a special programme for children curated by film curator and Director of the South Asia Children’s Cinema Forum, Monica Wahi. This includes two award-winning features, Chuskit by Priya Ramasubban and Cross My Heart by Luc Picard, and four internationally acclaimed shorts, Rammat Gammat (Ajitpal Singh, India), Hadia the Gift (Sinem Sakaogl, Germany/Turkey), Father (Abu Adnan, Denmark) and Beauty (Christina Willings, Canada).
The fest will take place in Tibetan Children’s Village.