Movies In The Mountains: Dharamshala International Film Festival

The majestic splendour of the Dhauladhar peaks, nestled amidst the Himalayan mountain range of northern India – a fitting location for an equally inspiring festival. The Dharamshala International Film Festival – a rather nascent initiative that was born out of a real passion for independent cinema, and a desire to share this passion with more audiences – gears up to launch in this beautiful locale from the 30th of October till the 2nd of November, 2014.

“The Dharamshala International Film Festival is a small, eclectic film festival that brings the best of international independent cinema to a region that has no movie theatres,” filmmaking couple Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, founders of the festival and long time residents of Dharamshala begin to explain. “We started the festival in 2014 with the aim of bringing high quality independent films and their filmmakers to Dharamshala to enrich knowledge and understanding of other communities and ideas. The festival promotes local filmmaking talent and creates a truly meaningful and non-partisan cultural platform to engage and involve the diverse communities of the area – Indians, Tibetan refugees and expatriates.”

Ritu Sarin and Tenzin Sonam - Founders, DIFF

Ritu Sarin and Tenzin Sonam – Founders, DIFF

Like many other inspiring movements, this one is built upon a foundation of true passion and belief in the potential of the independent arts to effect positive change. “The festival revolves around our belief that cinema and art have the potential to be a force for good and the ability to transform perceptions and foster understanding,” say Ritu and Tenzing. “The people of the region would never have access to the films that the festival brings to Dharamshala, and not only develops a platform for exchange, but also inculcates an interest in independent cinema from around the world.”

IndiEarth has partnered with this beautiful festival, in the hopes that bringing together the two organizations’ shared visions will help spread the message to more people across India. “Our partnership with IndiEarth evolved from a shared belief in the importance of bringing independent cinema to audiences through free, non-commercial community screenings”, explain Ritu and Tenzing, “The IndiEarth vision to bring films that are not otherwise readily accessible to the public echoes with our own vision, which is to expose communities to films they would otherwise never even have heard of. In IndiEarth we found a like-minded initiative, dedicated to the independent art scene in the country.”

“As part of DIFF’s commitment to reaching out to and engaging with diverse communities through the medium of film, we set out to screen the Best of DIFF around the country, with festival favourites from the first two years,” continue Ritu and Tenzing, “The idea was to bring some fantastic independent films to audiences and also to give them a taste of what is to come at DIFF 2014. With the support of IndiEarth we brought these films to Chennai audiences and we hope the experience was rewarding and inspiring for them!” The Best of DIFF screenings are being held by IndiEarth in association with Hablis Hotel in Chennai.

Still from Jehane film The Square

Still from Jehane Noujaim’s film The Square

Finally, what can audiences expect from this year’s festival line up? “This year we have a really exciting package of films from the Middle East – Sundance and TIFF award-winning The Square by Jehane Noujaim; Return to Homs by Talal Derki which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance; A World Not Ours by Mahdi Fleifel, and Hany Abu-Assad’s Cannes 2013 Jury Prize-winning Omar, also nominated for the Oscars.

Chaitanya Tamhane will bring his debut feature Court which won two awards at the Venice International Film Festival, and Rajat Kapoor will join us to introduce his film Ankhon Dekhi. Bhutanese-Tibetan filmmaker Khyentse Norbu will join us for the screening of his film Vara: A Blessing and iconoclastic Bengali filmmaker Q will unveil his brand new film, Nabarun.

Jim Jarmusch’s award-winning Only Lovers Left Alive starring Tilda Swinton is another film to watch out for, among many others from around the world. We also have an animation series curated by India’s leading animation filmmaker Gitanjali Rao and Indian shorts curated by Umesh Kulkarni. View our entire programme here:

To attend or be a part of the festival, register here:
For more on the Dharamshala International Film Festival, visit
Photographs Courtesy: The Square, DIFF and JourneyMan TV


IndiEarth is an online B2B platform that connects India’s non-mainstream independent Musicians and Filmmakers to worldwide Media. The platform features a blog, offers value-added services and wider opportunity networks through its partnerships. IndiEarth is an EarthSync Initiative.

More Posts

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.