Due to the continuing seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 9th edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) will go online from 29 October to 4 November 2020. DIFF will be the first major film festival in India to launch a digital version.Well known for its cutting edge and thoughtful programming, the festival will again offer an eclectic slate of films that represents the finest in contemporary cinema from around the world. And it will continue to engage seriously with lovers of independent cinema and the filmmaking community through a series of carefully curated online panel discussions and Q&A sessions with filmmakers and a range of industry professionals. By moving into the digital space, DIFF will reach a much wider audience and spread the spirit of independent films, from the mountains of McLeod Ganj to audiences across India and South Asia.
DIFF Director Ritu Sarin says: “The decision to take DIFF online was not an easy one to make. So much of what DIFF is about has to do with its location and its intimate character. In the end, we decided that we had to keep DIFF going digitally, not only to give filmmakers a much-needed platform but also to connect with our audiences. We are very excited that people from all over South Asia will be able to view films from home this year!”Co-Director Tenzing Sonam adds: “This has been a steep learning curve for us but at the end of the day, we are excited about moving into the digital world. We will miss the cinematic experience of watching films in an auditorium in the company of likeminded film lovers and we hope to return to a physical festival once the pandemic is under control, but until then, let’s enjoy DIFF virtually!”
Oscar-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia, along with producer Guneet Monga and actor Adil Hussain, will be part of the inaugural DIFF Board of Advisors. Joining them will be Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, chairwoman of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary and former Vodafone global CEO Arun Sarin. Guneet Monga says “DIFF is a special film festival. It is run by Ritu and Tenzing with so much love and passion! Every filmmaker should experience the joy of being at DIFF. Although this year we are forced to come together virtually, the independent spirit of the festival will remain at its heart.” DIFF will partner with the New Zealand-based Shift72, one of the world’s leading video streaming platforms, to move into the digital realm and offer audiences a seamless user experience. Prominent festivals from around the world such as Toronto International Film Festival, CPH:Dox and SXSW have worked with Shift72. The ninth edition of Dharamshala International Film Festival will be held online on online.diff.co.in from 29 October to 8 November.
Filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, who are long-term residents of Dharamshala, initiated the festival in 2012 with the aim of bringing high-quality independent cinema to the mountains, encouraging local filmmaking talent, and creating a meaningful platform to engage the area’s diverse communities. For more information, log on to http://www.diff.co.in. The first edition of DIFF was held in 2012. Since then, it has established itself as one of India’s leading independent film festivals. DIFF’s cutting-edge and eclectic programming – which includes many India premieres – and its policy of inviting directors to present their films has made it one of the go-to film festivals in the country.Last year, the films and side programmes at DIFF attracted a viewership of around 9000, of which at least 60% were from places as far away as Kerala, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Some of India’s best-known film critics and writers were on hand to cover the event. The good news is that although the future of independent cinema and independently run film festivals remains uncertain, the organisers hope to return to the physical version of the festival in 2021.