The ninth edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF), which is going online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, announced its initial lineup of six feature documentaries and four narrative features on Monday.
The festival, slated to take place from October 29 to November 4, will screen documentaries such as 76 Days, Pearl of the Desert, A Rifle and a Bag, The Kingmaker, Softie, Welcome to Chechnya and feature narratives Corpus Christie, Identifying Features, Air Conditioner and Shell and Joint.
76 Days, an American production, chronicles the desperate and harrowing struggle of health workers to save lives in Wuhan, China, in the middle of an emerging COVID-19 outbreak. It is directed by Hao Wu and Weixi Chen.
While Pearl of the Desert, helmed by Indian filmmaker Pushpendra Singh, provides an insight into the traditions, customs and etiquette of the Muslim Manganiyars in Rajasthan through the eyes of its 12-year-old subject Moti.
A Rifle and a Bag is the story of a couple who met and fell in love while fighting alongside the Naxalites. After a decade of armed conflict, the couple surrendered to the police and now live with former comrades in a settlement they built together in Maharashtra.
The film is a joint production of India, Romania, Italy and Qatar. It is directed by Arya Rothe, Cristina Hane? and Isabella Rinaldi.
A US-UK production, The Kingmaker revolves around Imelda Marcos, wife of the late Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. Directed by Lauren Greenfield, the doc chronicles Imelda’s subsequent 21st century push to win her son Bongbong the vice-presidency.
Softie from Kenya is another political documentary that centres on political activist, the idealistic Boniface Softie Mwangi, who has been fighting injustice in his native Kenya. It is directed by Sam Soko.
The David France-directed Welcome to Chechnya from the US focuses on Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, who has waged a campaign to cleanse the blood of LGBTQ+ citizens since 2016.
In features segment, Corpus Christie probes issues of conscience and morality through the character of a 20-year-old who experiences a spiritual awakening whilst held at a Polish youth detention centre and begins a career as a priest upon his release. This feature directed by Jan Komasa is based on a real-life incident.
Identifying Features is about two mothers worried about their teenage sons, who have been missing for two months since leaving home in the Central Mexican state of Guanajuato.
The feature film is a co-production between Mexico and Spain, and is directed by Fernanda Valadez.
In Air Conditioner, all the air conditioners of Angola’s bustling capital Luanda mysteriously begin to come loose from their fittings and plummet to the ground, resulting in injuries and fatalities in this magical realist tale. Fradique has helmed the film.
Shell and Joint, a drama directed by Isamu Hirabayashi, follows childhood friends Nitobe and Sakamoto who now work on the front desk of a capsule hotel in Tokyo.
The festival will also hold a discussion about screenwriting in the Indian independent film space with Varun Grover and Juhi Chaturvedi, moderated by film writer and critic Namrata Joshi.
Producer-director Shrihari Sathe will hold a discussion with South Asian filmmakers –Mostafa Sarwar Farooki (Bangladesh), Deepak Rauniyar (Nepal), Geethu Mohandas (India), Afia Nathaniel (Pakistan) and Tashi Gyeltshen (Bhutan) about their personal journeys and the common challenges that filmmakers from the subcontinent face in getting their films made, and what it takes to find audiences worldwide even after making successful first films.
The DIFF is presented by Dharamshala-based filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam to promote contemporary cinema, art and independent media practices in the Himalayan region.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines