Dharmashala International Film Festival 2013 – Celluloid magic above the clouds

The 2nd Dharmashala International Film Festival (DIFF) is just a few days away. This year the film festival with one-of-a-kind setting will be held from the 24th to the 27th October. For the second edition the organizers have ensured that a wide variety of films are on view during this four day festival. Documentaries, feature films and shorts films from genres as diverse as sci-fi to indie will be screened at DIFF.

The first edition held between 1st and 4th November, 2012 was a huge success. It vindicated the efforts of filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, who conceptualized the festival and formed the arts trust White Crane Arts & Media that presents the festival. This trust aims to promote arts of various forms in the Himalayan region.

Sarin and Sonam directed the acclaimed documentary ‘When Hari Got Married’ that mainstream audiences got to watch earlier this year as part of the PVR Director’s Rare initiative. This film not only works as a window into a region we know very little about, but also offered a subtle examination of the effect of modernity on a rural family.

Both Sarin and Sonam always felt that Dharmashala would be the perfect setting for an international film festival. McLeodganj, where the festival is based, is a culturally eclectic town. Indians, Tibetans and a number of foreign expatriates call Dharmashala home.

During the first edition 26 documentaries, feature films and short films were screened. Several panel discussions and master classes with eminent filmmakers were also organized. Some of these filmmakers were Jennifer Fox, Karim El Hakim, Guy Davidi and Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni.

Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer

The line-up of films confirmed to be part of DIFF this year is:

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (USA/China 2012) – Documentary directed by Alison Klayman (91 min)

The Act of Killing (Denmark/Norway/UK 2012) – Documentary directed by Joshua Oppenheimer (59 min)

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (UK/Russia 2013) – Documentary directed by Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin (88 min)

The Rocket (Australia 2013) – Drama directed by Kim Mordaunt (96 min)

Lasting (Poland 2013) – Drama directed by Jacek Borcuch (95 min)

With You Without You (Sri Lanka 2012) – Drama directed by Prasanna Vithanage (90 min)

The Strange Little Cat (Germany 2013) – Drama directed by Ramon Zürcher (72 min)

Neighbouring Sounds (Brazil 2012) – Drama directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho (131 min)

Thursday till Sunday (Chile/Netherlands 2012) – Drama directed by Dominga Sotomayor (96 min)

Lore (Australia) directed by Cate Shortland

Bushido Man (Japan) directed by Takanori Tsujimoto

Piercing Brightness (UK) directed by Shezad Dawood

Roots (Japan) directed by Kaoru Ikeya

La Voz De Los Silenciados (USA) directed by Maximón Monihan

Indian films to be screened at DIFF 2013:

Gulabi Gang (Documentary) directed by Nishtha Jain (96 min)

Menstrual Man (Documentary) directed by Amit Virmani (63 min)

To Let the World In (Documentary) directed by Avijit Mukul Kishore (93 min)

Jai Bhim Comrade (Documentary) directed by Anand Patwardhan (199 min)

The Lunchbox (Feature) directed by Ritesh Batra

Filmistaan directed by Nitin Kakkar

Fandry (Feature) directed by Nagraj Popatrao Manjule (103 min)

Tasher Desh (Feature) directed by Q (112 min)

Crossing Bridges (Feature) directed by Sange Dorjee Thongdok (103 min)

Gulabi Gang Film


At DIFF 2013 you will also get to watch a series of films made by some of the leading contemporary international artists that rarely venture out of galleries. These artists are Sean Snyder, Wael Shawky, Marine Hugonnier, Omer Fast, Walid Raad and Rabih Mroué. This is a new segment introduced at DIFF this year and is named ‘Art and Film’. This series of films will be presented by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Foundation, which is based in Vienna.

The world premiere of Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky’s film Watermark will take place at the festival.

Other attractions

You can also watch a collection of some of the best recent short films made in India. This collection has been curated by well-known filmmaker Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni.

There will be a bunch of Q & A sessions, panel discussions and master classes where filmmakers (Indian and international) and industry professionals will interact with the audience.

Must watch films

Among the international films to be screened at DIFF, the ones you should definitely watch are:

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer – This provocative Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin documentary is about the Russian of the same name.

Lasting – This film by Polish filmmaker Jacek Borcuch won awards at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Lore – This post-World War II drama by Kate Shortland is Australia’s official entry to the Oscar’s for the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Piercing Brightness – This sci-fi film is talented British artist Shezad Dawood’s debut feature

Bushido Man – This martial arts extravaganza is directed by Japanese cult director Takanori Tsujimoto.


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