DIFF 2015: Bouquet of indie films regales movie buffs in Dharamsala

Dharamsala, Nov 10 (IANS) A holistic mix of Indian and international features and documentaries — not necessarily reflecting glitz and glamour — from India and countries like the US, France, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and Russia, regaled movie aficionados at the fourth edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) here.

Starting with Kanu Behl’s “Titli”, the four-day independent film festival, which took place here at the scenic locales of Mcleodganj, showcased a bouquet of independent films, documentaries, shorts and animation films. These facilitated exchange of sociological and cultural thoughts between independent filmmakers, aspiring filmmakers, localites, foreigners and film enthusiasts.

Be it internationally acclaimed Indian films and documentaries like “Island City”, “Placebo”, “Kothanodi”, “Chauthi Koot”, “Umrika” and “Ahalya” or gripping movies of foreign filmmakers like Burmese director The Maw Naing’s “The Monk”, Japanese director Kaoru Ikeya’s Lung Ta”, Israeli director Talya Lavie’s “Zero Motivation” and Swiss director Anka Schmid’s “Wild Women – Gentle Beasts”, the festival gave a clear view of the universal approach that these filmmakers take to make their films appeal globally.

The fest was pioneered by filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam to provide a cinematic platform for people to come forward and watch independent films.

“We started with the idea of bringing quality cinema to the mountains. Not only the filmmakers and movie aficionados loved the quality of films screened this year, they even called DIFF the Sundance (Film Festival) of India. The fact that we witnessed an amazing audience from across India speaks for itself. Also the tourists had a great time,” Sarin told IANS.

“Getting the kind of audiences that care about cinema and like to see it in an intimate sort of space, is what our aim has been. If that kind of audience will be there, it will be a mecca for film lovers,” she added.

Some of the other films which struck the right chords with the audience included “The Wolfpack” (US), “Yallah! Underground” (Czech Republic), “Body” (Poland), “The Act of Living” (Denmark) and “Hope” (France).

Burmese director The Maw Naing, who was present at the festival, said these platforms are the only “big chance” to know more about independent cinema.

“I love to travel across various film festivals, but I don’t know much about independent film industry of the world. So these kinds of festivals are a big change and only place to showcase our films and learn about other’s works. Movies can touch the heart more easily than other art forms like literature or painting as they use visuals to entertain people,” Naing told IANS.

This year, DIFF also introduced a program titled “Reel Neverland”, under which movies and documentaries specifically tailored for younger audiences were screened. This included Russian short film “About a Mother” by Dina Velikovskayato, Brazilian director Ale Abreu’s “The Boy and The World”, Olivier Ringer’s “Birds of Passage” and Astrid Bussink’s “Giovanni”.

Another interesting segment at DIFF 2015 were the panel discussions – The New Indian Indie Wave and Film and The Female Gaze – which were attended by independent Indian filmmakers like Gurvinder Singh, Ruchika Oberoi, Bhaskar Hazarika, Abhay Kumar, Kanu Behl and foreign filmmakers like Anka Schmid, Talya Lavie and Dechen Roder.

During the discussions, all the panelists spoke their heart out about how independent cinema is proving its mettle across the globe.

After an electrifying start, the festival chose to give the movie gala a perfect end by screening Neeraj Ghaywan’s “Masaan”, which has made India proud after getting acclamation at various international film festivals.

(The writer’s trip is at the invitation of the festival organisers. Sandeep Sharma can be contacted at sandeep.s@ians.in)

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