A bouquet of “socially relevant” independent documentaries and films made with “distinct artistic vision” from India and countries like Singapore, South Korea, Germany and the US will enthrall movie aficionados at the fifth edition of Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF), which will start here on Thursday.

Taking place in the scenic locales of Dharamsala here, the four-day offbeat and independent film fest is organised by filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam.

There will be an eclectic mix of independent films, documentaries, shorts and animation films from India and around the world, with a special focus on Indian regional cinema this time.

“This time our programme is better than ever. We have 18 Indian premieres and 21 countries are being represented by their respective films. Twenty filmmakers are expected to attend the festival this year. We have also moved to a new venue, which has more space,” Sarin told IANS over the phone.

“While selecting movies from the entries that we received this year, we have chosen films which moved us and we feel are socially relevant, important for the audience across the world and made with a very distinct artistic vision,” she added.

Starting with filmmaker Raam Reddy’s National Award-winning film “Thithi”, which was lauded at various international film festivals, DIFF will screen more than 40 films this year. Reddy will be present on the fest’s opening night on Thursday.

This will be followed by a list of internationally acclaimed films and documentaries like Singaporean director Boo Junfeng’s “Apprentice”, Thai filmmaker Pimpaka Towira’s “The Island Funeral”, Korean filmmaker Jeon Soo-il’s “A Korean in Paris”, and French documentary “Royal Cafe” by director-duo Tenzin Dasel and Remi Caritey.

“Didi Contractor: Marrying the Earth to the Building” – a documentary by Swiss director Steffi Giaracuni, and Vietnamese director Nguyen Trinh Thi’s “Vietnam The Movie” will have their world premieres at the festival.

International filmmakers, who are expected to greet the audience at the festival, include Anna Vilgelmi (Germany), Kiwi Chow Kwun-wai (Hong Kong), Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami (Iran) and Sean McAllister (Britain).

From the Indian turf, DIFF 2016 will feature National Award-winning actor Girish Kulkarni’s Marathi road drama “Highway”, director Bauddhayan Mukherji’s film “The Violin Player”, Rajeev Ravi’s Malayalam action thriller film “Kammatipaadam”, former CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur’s short film “The Guide”, Gurvinder Singh’s short “Infiltrator”, Chaitanya Tamhane’s “Six Strands” and ace filmmaker Anurag Kashyap‘s short film “That Day After Every Day”.

National Award-winning filmmaker Vetrimaaran’s critically acclaimed Tamil drama “Visaranai” (Interrogation), which is India’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the upcoming 89th Academy Awards, will bring the curtains down on DIFF 2016.

Besides the films, the festival will feature two panel discussions. Film critic Saibal Chatterjee will hold the “Cinema India: Voices from the non-Hindi Mainstream” discussion, which will feature filmmakers Bauddhayan Mukherji, Rajiv Ravi, Raam Reddy and Umesh Kulkarni as panelists.

The other panel discussion, titled “Invisible People: Questions of Identity and Belonging”, will feature filmmakers from various countries.

DIFF 2016 will also have a special session titled “Between Art and Industry”, which will be attended by veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah. Also veteran screenwriter and filmmaker Saeed Mirza will be a part of the conversation “Saeed Mirza Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai'”

Like its previous editions, this year too, DIFF aims at showcasing films with “meaningful subjects”.

“We believe in meaningful cinema and films having meaningful subjects. Because of DIFF, now we have a theatre in Dharamsala. It opened about a month ago. It’s situated in a mall in lower Dharamsala. It has two screens. So, we want this edition to have a bigger impact,” Sarin concluded.

(The writer’s trip to Dharamsala is at the invitation of the Dharamshala International Film Festival organisers. Sandeep Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])

By Sandeep Sharma

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