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The 9th edition of dharamshala international film festival (diff), to be held online from 29 oct to 4 nov 2020


Jyothi Venkatesh

The Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) will be held online from 29 October to 4 November 2020. As a response to the ongoing pandemic the festival was forced to reimagine ways in which it could continue to reach out to film lovers and the independent filmmaking community. Partnering with Shift72, the leading global VOD platform to take the festival online, DIFF will reach out new audiences across India, South Asia and around the world. The ninth edition of DIFF has the widest slate of programming yet with over 100 films from 40 countries!

They include feature narratives, documentaries and shorts from around the world, and represent some of the finest independent films being made today. They also include works that daringly expand the frontiers of cinematic language, updating in often unexpected and delightful ways, the art of visual story-telling. Festival Director Ritu Sarin says, “Although we were initially unsure about taking DIFF online, now that we’ve taken the plunge, we’re really excited by the possibilities that this has opened up.

The online edition of DIFF will be able to reach audiences throughout India and some films will be available worldwide. The online format also allows us to programme many more films than we could normally and we are thrilled about that.” DIFF opened up to submissions and, once again this year, the festival received an overwhelming number of films—the majority made by first-time filmmakers.

dharamshala international film festival

This made us realise the importance of providing a platform to showcase these new voices. Although some of these films are challenged by the lack of resources, the stories they tell are fresh and important, and explore new territories—geographically, socially, culturally and psychologically. They represent the exciting voices of the next generation. In response, DIFF is instituting an Audience Award for the Best First Film to encourage and promote Indian Shorts.

International Feature Narratives

The DIFF 2020 line up of Feature Narratives includes: Aidol(dir. Lawrence Lek | UK),Air Conditioner(dir. Fradique, | Angola), Ama Khando(dir.Dhondup Tsering Gurung | Nepal), Baby Teeth(dir. Shannon Murphy | Australia),Corpus Christi (dir. Jan Komasa | Poland/France), Exile (dir. Visar Morina | Germany, Belgium, Kosovo), Gaza Mon Amour(dir.Tarzan Nasser, Arab Nasser | Palestine/France/Germany/Portugal/Qatar), Identifying Features (dir. Fernanda Valadez | Mexico/Spain), The Last Days of Spring (dir. Isabel Lamberti | Netherlands, Spain) The Long Walk (dir. Mattie Do | Laos), Martin Eden (dir. Pietro Marcello | Italy), Shell and Joint (dir. Isamu Hirabayashi | Japan), Vai (dir. Whippy, ‘Ofa-Ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki, Matasila Freshwater, Amberley Jo Aumua, Mīria George, Marina Alofagia McCartney, Dianna Fuemana, Becs Arahanga | New Zealand), We Are Little Zombies(dir.Makoto Nagahisa | Japan), Yalda A Night for Forgiveness (dir. Massoud Bhakshi | Iran/France/Germany/Switzerland)

International Documentaries

The line-up includes 76 Days(dir. Hao Wu, Weixi Chen, Anonymous | USA/China), All That Perishes at the Edge of Land (dir. Hira Nabi | Pakistan), Areum Married (dir. Areum Parkkang | South Korea), Influence(dir.Diana Neille, Richard Poplak | South Africa), The Kingmaker (dir. Lauren Greenfield | USA), Land of My Father (dir. Matthew J Koshmrl | South Korea), My Own Way(dir. Amberley Steen, Daria Vilchinskaia, Sorsha Caldwell | Denmark), Notturno (dir. Gianfranco Rossi | On a Clear Day You can See the Revolution from Here (dir. Emma Charles, Ben Evans James | UK), Ophir(dir. Alexandre Berman, Olivier Pollet | France), Our Time Machine(dir. Yang Sun, S. Leo Chiang | China), Pearl of the Desert(dir. Pushpendra Singh | India/South Korea), Return to Gandhi Road (dir. Yeshe Hegan | New Zealand), Reunited (dir. Mira Jargil | Denmark), A Rifle and a Bag (dir. Arya Rothe, Cristina Hanes, Isabella Rinaldi | India/Romania/Italy/Qatar), Softie(dir.Sam Soko | Kenya), The Story of Plastic(dir. Deia Schlosberg | USA), Three (or more) Ecologies (dir. Angela Anderson | Germany) Under the North Sea (dir. Federico Barni, Alberto Allica | UK) Unlocking Doors of Cinema (dir. Nezar Andary | UAE), Visions of a Teacher(dir. Jaap Verhoeven | Netherlands), We Have Boots(dir. Evans Chan | Hong Kong), Welcome to Chechnya (dir. David France | USA).

Indian Documentaries

Anonymous (dir. Mithunchandra Chaudhari), Bread and Belonging (dir. Sonia Filinto), Bound by Us(dir, Chinmoy Sonowal) Chachan, A Day(dir.J J Abraham), Desire (dir. Garima Kaul), Did You Do It?(dir. Aditi Bhande), Fathima the Oracle (dir. Geleck Palsang), Ghar Ka Pata (dir. Madhulika Jalali), Grace(dir. Smarak Samarjeet), High Grounds(dir. Rajiv Malu), Holy Rights (dir. Farha Khatun), Iron Khan (dir. Naseer Khanday),Lovely Villa (dir. Rohan Shivkumar), Mhari Topli ma: Phang(dir.Pradeep Lekhwar), Mummy (dir. Aditi Mody),On the Edge of Life(dir, Nikhilesh Mattoo), Our Mountain Valley Home(dir. Amartya Ray), Son Rise (dir. Vibha Bakshi), Sudhamayee (dir. Megha Acharya), That Cloud Never Left (dir. Yashaswini Raghunandan).

Shorts at DIFF

30K an Ounce(dir. Sagar Singh Sivaraman | Thailand), Aicha(dir. Zakaria Nouri | Morocco), Bandh (dir. Nilesh Jatwa | India), Bare Trees in the Mist(dir. Rajan Kathet | Nepal), Bittu (dir. Karishma Dube | India), Bully (dir. Adhip Iyer | India), Catdog (dir. Ashmita Guha Neogi | India), Da-Dzma(dir. Jaro Minne | Belgium), Dhummas (dir, Nainisha Dedhia | India), Green Blackberries (dir. Prithviraj Das Gupta | India), Kanya (dir. Apoorva Satish | India), Khisa (dir. Raj Pritam More | India), No Place (dir. Gabriel Amaral | Brazil), Laali (dir. Abhiroop Basu | India), Mizaru(dir. Sudarshan Suresh | India), Red Aninsri (dir. Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke |Thailand), Saapshidi (dir. Mayura Dolas | India), Salana Jalsa (dir. Pratik Thakare | India), The Sea (dir. Cameron Richards | UK), The Song We Sang (dir. Aarti Neharsh | India), Stray Dogs Come Out at Night(dir. Hamza Bangash | Pakistan), Sonsi (dir. Savita Singh | India), Tasveer (dir. Ashutosh Pathak | India), Wade (dir. Upamanyu Bhattacharyya, Kalp Sanghvi | India), Wig (dir. Atanu Mukherjee | India), Yarlung (dir. Kunsang Kyirong, | Canada), Yarne (dir. Andrew Krakower | USA).

A Special Presentation with TBA21

DIFF is excited to present in partnership with its long-term collaborator, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), the new short film by award-winning Singapore filmmaker and artist Yeo Siew Hua, An Invocation to the Earth. This will be accompanied by a conversation between Yeo Siew Hua and Ute Meta Bauer, moderated by Francesca von Habsburg.

A Special Presentation with the Asian Film Archive, Singapore

DIFF is partnering with the Asian Film Archive (AFA), Singapore, to present Monographs, a series of ten video essays, commissioned by AFA in response to the curtailing of film production and screening activities during the pandemic year. They include: A Weirdo Never Fever OverRy (dir. Arnont Nongyao | Thailand), Brave Revolutionary Redubbed (dir. Kush Badhwar & Renu Savant | India), Saved by the Party-state (dir. Maja Korbecka | China), Irani Bag (dir. Maryam Tarkafory | Iran), Remniscences (dir. Maung Okkar | Myanmar), Casting a Spell to Alter Reality(dir. Pam Virada | Thailand), Spirit Film (dir. Raya Martin | Philippines), Ghosts Like Us (dir. Riar Rizaldi | Indonesia), Her Five Lives (dir. Saodat Ismailova | Uzbekistan), and Death of Soldier (dir. Truong Minh Quý | Vietnam).

Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films

In a separate category, DIFF is once again partnering again with Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films to present a package of short films from India: Alternism (dir. Devansh Mathur), Call him Eddy (dir. Sanjeev Vig), Disconnected (dir. Suhail Tatari), Dobara Alvida (dir.Shashank S Singh), Man of the House (dir. Jall Cowasji), and Nawab (dir. dir. Mansi Jain).

Panel Discussions, Conversations and Q&As

DIFF Directors Ritu and Tenzing will be in conversation with Oscar-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia and award-winning director Chaitanya Tamhane. A number of films will be accompanied by Q&As with the directors.

Panel Discussions include: Breaking Through: Indie Filmmaking in South Asia

New York-based Producer/Director Shrihari Sathe moderates the discussion with Afia Nathanial (Pakistan),Deepak Rauniyar (Nepal), Geetu Mohandas (India), Mostofa Sarwar Farooki (Bangladesh) and Tashi Gyeltshen (Bhutan).

Looking Out, Looking In: Talking Cinematography

Film writer Trisha Gupta in conversation with two cinematographers, Pooja Gupte, and Shreya Dev Dube about being tech geeks, shooting Wigand Bittu, and the world behind the lens.

Negotiating Reality and the Film Form

Filmmaker/Artist Afrah Shafiq talks to documentary filmmakers Arya Rothe,Hira Nabi and Yashaswini Raghunandan.

International Funding: How to go from application to screen?

Shrihari Sathe talks to Fay Breeman (Hubert Bals Fund) and Emilie Pianta Essadi (Cinema du Monde) and Miriam Henze (World Cinema Fund) about the intricacies of finding international funding and putting together co-productions.

Writing For the Screen

Film writer Namrata Joshi in conversation with Juhi Chaturvedi and Varun Grover

Indie Cinema and the OTT Space

Film Critic Baradwaj Rangan in conversation with filmmaker Gurvinder Singh, producer Kimsi Singh, Svetlana Naudiyal from MUBI and Gaurav Raturi from Cinemaprenuer about indie cinema and the OTT space.

Festival Passes

There are three categories of passes:

Premium Festival Pass gives the buyer access to the entire lineup and special programmes (only available to viewers in India)

Regular Festival Pass includes a majority of the selection and access to the special programmes, panels and workshop (only available to viewers in SAARC countries). Lite Festival Pass holders will have access to a smaller selection of films and will have access to the panels if there is availability (available to viewers worldwide).

The ninth edition of Dharamshala International Film Festival will be held online from 29 October to 4 November 2020. 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