New Delhi, Oct 19 (SocialNews.XYZ) She says the upcoming 12th Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF), scheduled to be held from November 4 to 7, with a lineup of about 94 films set to be screened over a span of 4 days -- 32 feature Fiction, 21 feature Documentaries, and 40 Short Films, will showcase how the festival has gone beyond bringing independent cinema to the Himalayan region.
For Ritu Sarin, the co-founder, DIFF, has evolved significantly over the years, from its modest beginnings in 2012 to becoming one of India's prominent independent film festivals.
"Its initial focus on bringing independent cinema to the Himalayan region and nurturing local filmmaking talent has expanded. Today, it serves as a cultural platform engaging diverse communities, with a broad national and international audience," she tells IANS.
Known for its thought-provoking programming, addressing contemporary issues and universal human experiences, the festival has managed to build a strong network of independent filmmakers and film professionals across South Asia, further solidifying its impact on the independent film scene.
This year's festival will be held at the Tibetan Children's Village in upper Dharamshala, allowing the organisers, who are well-known artists and filmmakers, the possibility of expanding to four screens. A dedicated children's film section will showcase films specifically to engage and entertain younger audiences.
"We will also build on its collaboration with Festival des 3 Continents' Produire au Sud (PAS) and Institut Francais to continue its Filmlab South Asia workshop, which was started last year," adds Sarin.
"A curated selection of five outstanding film projects hailing from India, Nepal, and Bangladesh have been chosen for the training programme, which focuses on international co-production, further bolstering the Himalayan region's independent filmmaking scene," says co-founder Tenzing Sonam.
In fact, Bina Paul has been brought on board as the Director of Programming, along with a dedicated team of three film programmers -- Monica Gyamlani, Eleonora Bosco, and Tony Xavier.
Sonam feels that Bina's impressive background as the former Artistic Director of the International Film Festival of Kerala and her experience as a film editor makes her an invaluable addition to the team.
While getting financial support, from both state and Central government entities, has been a consistent challenge, the organisers are hopeful for some government funding this year. The festival essentially relies on diverse funding sources and partnerships, including TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art, a prominent international art and advocacy foundation from Spain, which has been a pivotal supporter besides strategic partnerships with embassies and cultural institutions.
Over the years, DIFF has carved out a distinctive identity in the festival circuit through a blend of factors and individuals. With a focus on championing independent cinema, it provides a unique platform for lesser-known voices and stories from both the South Asian region and around the world.
"By doing this, we have filled an important niche in the Indian cinema landscape where there was a shortage of truly independent film festivals," asserts Sarin.
For some years now, the festival has also been conducting 'DIFF On The Road', a travelling event in collaboration with various organisations and cultural institutions across the country.
"This initiative aims to showcase documentaries and features selected from previous editions of the festival. Our goal is to create a non-partisan cultural platform for dialogue on the art of cinema and the politics of filmmaking," concludes Sonam.
(Sukant Deepak can be reached at email@example.com)