In a bid to promote Indie cinema and provide aspiring filmmakers with a platform to showcase their talent, the 7th edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival kickstarted in Himachal Pradesh on Thursday. The film extravaganza was opened by Ukrainian filmmaker Dar Gai's critically acclaimed feature "Namdev Bhau: In Search of Silence".
The black comedy about a 65-year-old chauffeur and his quest to find silence received thundering response at DIFF, after receiving rave reviews at festivals like BFI London Film Festival 2018 and Busan International Film Festival 2018. The film was screened at the Hermann Gmeiner Auditorium in the Tibet Children's Village School.
The evening began with junior and senior students of the school singing a Tibetan song. Co-director of the festival, Ritu Sarin said she was happy with the interest cinema enthusiasts have been showing in DIFF.
"Our aim is to support indie filmmakers and we will always stick by that. We want to keep DIFF an intimate affair and are happy with the way more people are joining with each passing year. It's an honour to present some of the best films at DIFF this year," Sarin told PTI.
"Namdev Bhau…" was presented by the film's director, Dar Gai.
"Coming to DIFF is a pleasure. This film has helped me evolve a lot as a director and as a human being. My aim as a filmmaker has never been to give a social message. My cinema is more about personal journey and this film is a perfect example of the kind of cinema I believe in," she told PTI.
This year at DIFF, Indian programming highlights include fiction features-- Devashish Makhija's "Bhonsle", Lijo Jose Pellissery's Malayalam feature "Ee.Ma.Yau", Anamika Haksar's "Ghode ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon" and Dominic Sangma's Garo language film "Ma'ama" and docu feature "Raghu Rai: An Unframed Portrait" by Avani Rai.
The festival will also hold Indian premieres of Hiroshi Sunairi's "48 Years: Silent Dictator" (Japan), TIFF 2017 Official Selection "Waru" (New Zealand), Tashi Gyeltshen's "The Red Phallus" and Luc Schaedler's "A Long Way Home".
This year's edition of the DIFF Film Fellows initiative will focus specifically on up-and-coming filmmakers from Himachal Pradesh.
The selected fellows are Rahat Mahajan, Aman Sharma, Mrinali Singha,Vaasu Soni and Kesang Thakur, who will be mentored by award-winning filmmakers Gurvinder Singh and Anupama Srinivasan.
Festival directors Ritu and Tenzing's fiction feature, "The Sweet Requiem", which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018, will have its Asian Premiere at DIFF.
The closing film of the festival is "Hamid", directed by Aijaz Khan. The Kashmir-set drama became the closing film for DIFF after the festival organisers decided to drop Ere Gowda's debut directorial venture "Balekempa" following sexual harassment allegations against him.