In the second half of 2012, film makers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam organized the first Dharamsala International Film Festival. The husband wife couple have been making films for about three decades and all their experience and network went into making this event a grand success. Presented by Ritu and Tenzing's "White Crane Arts & Media Trust", the event gathers film makers from across the globe and showcases some of the most beautiful and unconventional movies of recent times. 2013 saw the second edition and now DIFF is into its third edition which is scheduled for October 30th. And one of the new additions this time around for upcoming film makers is the Film Fellowship Program.
This initiative hopes to encourage and develop filmmaking talent in the Himalayan regions of India by providing an opportunity to young, up-and-coming filmmakers from the area to attend DIFF 2014 and participate in its various events, which include screenings of the best of contemporary independent cinema, masterclasses and workshops held by visiting filmmakers and industry professionals. Selected participants will also have the opportunity to engage in special one-on-one mentorship sessions with visiting filmmakers.
Based on their applications, five young filmmakers will be selected as part of DIFF Film Fellows 2014. The programme will cover train fares, food and lodging for the duration of the festival. The fellowship is open for anyone younger than the age of 30 and there are a few other requirements that can be read here.
Alongside brining high quality, independent films along with their filmmakers to Dharamshala, one of the key aims of DIFF is to create a truly meaningful, non-partisan cultural platform to engage and involve all communities that inhabit the area—Indians, Tibetan refugees and expatriates. "We have kept the scale of the event pretty much the same- around 26 films will be screened across 4 days," says Tenzing. Quality has been the foremost criteria at DIFF and having attended both the previous editions, I can vouch for that. The event is focusing highly on the logistics this time and the intention is to make it a more wholesome event with a festival like atmosphere at the venues.
The films for screening are picked by Ritu and Tenzing and a few trends have emerged each year. "This time around, we have three films around the Gaza conflict. Some very powerful films have been made on the subject and we'd be able to screen them during the festival. The other trend is of more Tibetan films. We didn't have any last year but this time, we have three such films and we're very excited about them," says Tenzing. The day for the festival is coming closer and the preparations are on in full swing.
Read our detailed interview with Ritu and Tenzing...