Bringing the very best of the motion picture medium to the picturesque mountains of Himachal Pradesh is The Dharamshala International Film Festival or DIFF.

Cinema, in India, is as passionately revered as God itself. And why must it not? The visual medium has the potency to entertain, inform, cause thought and action. For an artform that is so incredibly compelling, not to mention, incredulously popular, it’s only fair that India has its fair share of film festivals that attempt to bring the best of Indian and global cinema on a global platform. Of them, the Dharamshala International Film Festival has been efficacious in its attempt to promote independent cinema; the consequence of the hard-work put in by many talented filmmakers from around the world with little to no financial backing.

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Today, The Sherp looks at the incredible journey the Dharamshala International Film Festival, which, this year is organised from November 5 to 8, proves to be for any movie lover.

Straight to the Hills

Cinema, as a medium, has the ability to infuse the viewer, and transport them to an alternative reality. It is this very intrinsic nature of movies that completely justify a film festival in the very lap of beauty. Dharamshala, a city located in the beautifully dense Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh, proves the perfect getaway for a visual experience as such; its natural ability to prove a confluence of several cultures providing the perfect backdrop to the eclectic variety in tow at DIFF.

McLeodganj View from the hill (1 of 1)
The artistic culture of Dharamshala

Dharamshala is not just well known for its naturally blessed landscape, but also for its strong cultural and artistic identity. Tibetan culture and local pahaadi culture have come together in a beautiful fusion. Over the last several years, the city’s easy-going lifestyle, and affirmable climate have invited several artists who’ve chosen to settle there. This had led to a mature understanding of art and crafts, visible in every nook and corner of Dharamshala’s lifestyle, thereby advocating the brilliance that comes from the Dharamshala International Film Festival.


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Tibetan representation

Dharamshala International Film Festival was initiated by White Crane Films, an independent film production company helmed by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, whose work furthers a greater understanding of Tibetan culture, including the stories of Tibetan refugees in exile.

At DIFF too, Tibetan cinema, and works by Tibetan storytellers and filmmakers find adequate representation amongst Indian and global cinema, in an attempt to create a stairway of communication. This year too, movies like Tashi and the Monk, The Monk from Myanmar, and Tibetan Warrior ably help comprehension of Buddhism and the greater Tibetan philosophies. For a community facing conflict of global proportions, this artistic representation does well to foster communication.

Tashi and The Monk by Andrew Hinton & Johnny Burke

Tashi and The Monk by Andrew Hinton & Johnny Burke

Independent cinema, galore

If you find commercially large, mainstream productions tedious, and often, repetitive, DIFF provides an excellent avenue to keep yourself abreast of wonderful pieces of cinematic work being produced the world, thereby proving that studio backing is no precursor for inspiring work. Some of the best documentaries, feature films and short films are all offered in an inspiring lineup of work, from around the world. Amateur filmmakers and film professionals all interact in an animated and stirring network of film enthusiasts.


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The very best of Indian cinema

Indian Cinema finds able representation at DIFF, with the very best of the year’s work up for screening every year. At DIFF 2015, movies like Masaan, a sensitive portrayal of India’s rooted complexity by Neeraj Ghaywan, Ahalya, a justifiable retelling of a famous tale from the Ramayana by Sujoy Ghosh, Island City, a movie by Ruchika Oberoi that wears Mumbai on its very sleeve, Chauthi Koot, a cinematic representation of the tension in Punjab during the 1980s by Gurvinder Singh and Tashi and the Monk, a wonderful portrayal between teacher and student by Andrew Hinton & Johnny Burke are the films all due for screening. Witness India’s brilliant cinematic uprising at the festival.

Masaan by Neeraj Ghaywan

Masaan by Neeraj Ghaywan

World comes to Dharamshala

Global cinema is incredibly relevant to a film festival aiming to stir conversation about the contemporary status of cinema. In that area, DIFF does not disappoint. With over 20 films from different parts of the world, like Japan, Myanmar, Indonesia, Denmark, USA, Switzerland and Czech Republic, DIFF provides an incredibly decisive space to expand one’s knowledge of the global movie language, and the various styles prevalent in the several film industries around the world.

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Concrete Night by Pirjo Honkasalo

Concrete Night by Pirjo Honkasalo

Brilliant reputation

“Been to many festivals- but the spirit behind the organisation of DIFF is absolutely unique. I have never been to a festival that runs its engine on the passion of everyone that comes in contact with it.” is what the acclaimed filmmaker and actor, Rajat Kapoor had to say about the Dharamshala International Film Festival. Truly, in every manner, DIFF has helped fuse cinematic styles from around the world; and has helped foster a platform that is as passionately followed and respected around the world. Whether you’re a mere viewer, touched by the platform of cinema, or an avid filmmaker, DIFF is a brilliant platform for furthering one’s knowledge of the constantly evolving artform.


(All Images From Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF))