News and Views on Tibet

DIFF 2023 to feature 92 films from 40 countries

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By Tenzin Nyidon

DHARAMSHALA, Nov 3: The native yet international film event Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) is back for its 12th edition, and it’s gearing up to deliver yet another carefully curated line-up of exciting, unusual and eclectic films, along with a range of interactive sessions with filmmakers and film professionals. Co-founders Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam shared their excitement about the upcoming event during a press conference on Thursday. The 12th edition of DIFF is set to take place at the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV), Upper Dharamshala from November 4-7. 

The four-day festival will showcase 92 films from more than 40 countries. The selections encompass 31 feature narratives, 21 feature documentaries, and 40 short films. With 92 films on display, DIFF will also host celebrated Tamil filmmaker Pa. Ranjit and Academy Award-winning producer Guneet Monga for discussions and masterclasses, offering a unique opportunity for festival attendees to gain insights into the world of cinema. 

In a departure from the previous year, this year’s edition marks a notable shift as the festival lacks any Tibetan films or films related to Tibet. Filmmaker and DIFF co-founder Tenzing Sonam, who is intimately connected with the Tibetan cinema told Phayul that, “The core reason for not having any films by Tibetan filmmakers is because there is an absence of new Tibetan films by Tibetan filmmakers. Nobody reached out to us or submitted their work.” 

Tenzing Sonam also revealed that the festival has experienced a setback with the unavailability of late Tibetan filmmaker, Pema Tseden’s last film, “Snow Leopard.” “This year we planned to showcase late Pema Tseden’s last film ‘Snow Leopard,’ however, his team did not give us permission to display his film after having reached out to them,” he told Phayul. He also acknowledged that the reasons for not providing permission to showcase “Snow Leopard” remain unclear. It is unclear whether the decision is related to the film being showcased in Dharamshala or if there are other factors, such as its recent release status, that influenced the decision.

DIFF founders Tenzing Sonam (L) and Ritu Sarin (R) at the DC Office in Dharamshala on Thursday (Phayul photo)

While Tibetan cinema might not be represented this year, DIFF will showcase films from Himalayan regions such as Ladakh, Bhutan, and Himachal Pradesh, he further added.

Filmmakers and long-time residents of Dharamshala, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam started the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) in 2012. They founded DIFF with the aim to champion independent cinema, nurture local filmmaking talent, and create a meaningful cultural platform that engages the area’s diverse communities.

Fast forward 12 years, and the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) has emerged as one of India’s premier independent film festivals. The event has grown in stature, attracting audiences not only from across the country but also from around the world. Over the years, DIFF has carved a niche for itself by championing filmmakers to explore unconventional narratives, unique storytelling approaches, and often marginalised subjects.

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