Dharamshala International Film Festival opens with great excitement and joie de vivre in Mcleodganj

The 8th edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in Mcleodganj from 7th – 10th November has opened amidst great excitement

Dharamshala International Film Festival opens with great excitement and joie de vivre in Mcleodganj
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Murtaza Ali Khan

The 8th edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF), scheduled to be held at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in Mcleodganj from 7th – 10th November, has opened amidst great excitement and joie de vivre despite the evening being damp and chilly. This year for the first time DIFF accepted film submissions for participation which greatly enhanced the overall selection this year. Another new feature at DIFF this year is the Gender Sensitivity Award which would be given to narrative and documentary features in association with the Film Critics Guild. The opening night featured Nangma performances by TIPA artists.

Speaking on the occasion, Festival Director Ritu Sarin thanked the TIPA for getting the auditorium ready on time for the 2019 DIFF. “The year has been very tough for us. DIFF has been very popular and its popularity has been growing with each passing year. But it’s becoming more challenging than ever to run it and because of this we almost cancelled the festival back in September this year. Tenzing and I have come to terms with the idea of giving up DIFF. But what really troubled us at the point of acceptance was a great sense of loss and sadness and we felt that we had to keep it going,” revealed Ritu.

Festival Director Tenzing Sonam took the opportunity to thank all the participants including the audiences for making DIFF possible. “Right from the very first edition back in 2012 one of our key priorities have been to filmmakers and film professionals to DIFF and this year again we have the honour to have the presence of seven filmmakers from India, two international filmmakers, and our good friend and acclaimed actor Adil Hussain,” told Sonam.

The opening ceremony was followed by the screening of Prateek Vats’ “Eeb Allay Ooo!” which recently won the Golden Gateway in the India Gold section at the 21st Mumbai Film Festival. Essentially a satire, the film revolves around a migrant named Anjani who secures a government job in Delhi. His job is to scare away monkeys from high profile government offices in and around New Delhi such as Udyog Bhawan and Nirman Bhawan. He does so by imitating the langur’s voice in the absence the actual langurs have been removed on grounds of animal rights.

Sharing his vision behind the film’s hybrid narrative, Vats explained, “I and my writer Shubham were very concerned about not making it an odd-job film. We wanted to situate this in the world we are living right now. I thought a subject like this lends itself beautifully to satire especially while confronting a strong establishment. I think it’s a tool we should use more often. There were deliberations like this which made us think beyond the documentary approach.”

Vats also congratulated the DIFF authorities for putting up a strong show yet again, ever since its inception in 2012. He said, “Festivals like these are what we look forward to and what makes making films special. It allows filmmakers like me to bring our work to the people.”

Shardul Bhardwaj, who plays the character of Anjani in the film, revealed, “My preparation for the role started with the clothes. I feel lack of resources proved to be a boon. The moment you change your clothes the gaze and the attitude of people also begin to change. That’s when something starts to build for you as an actor.”

While actor Adil Hussain will be conducting an acting workshop on the final day of the festival, Indian film directors such as Vinod Kamble, Lijo Jose Pellissery, Gitanjali Rao, and Ekta Mittal, among others will also be attending the 8th DIFF. Also, the festival will be attended by international filmmakers such as Kazuhiro Soda and Jesse Alk.

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