It is the festive season in more ways than one. The fourth edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival (5-8 November) promises a feast of Indian and foreign films, documentaries and shorts in a town without any cinema halls.
Founded by filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, DIFF opens with Kanu Behl's Titli and closes with Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan. Several other Indian independent films will be shown at the festival, including Gurvinder Singh’s Chauthi Koot, Bhaskar Hazarika’s Kothanodi, Abhay Kumar’s Placebo, Prashant Nair’s Umrika and Ruchika Oberoi’s Island City.
Here’s what else is buzzing at DIFF.
The Monk: Myanmarese director The Maw Naing describes his work as “based on an evolution of a Buddhist monk from a novice to his monkhood and his choice in life: whether he will stick to clergy life or change to lay manhood”.
Lung Ta: Japanese filmmaker Kaoru Ikeya's documentary, whose title translates into Wind Horse, explores the history of non-violent protest in Tibet against China occupation.
Tibetan Warrior: Dodo Hunziker presents a documentary on Loten Namling, an exiled Tibetan and musician living in Switzerland who drags a coffin from Bern to Geneva that symbolises the "slow dying of Tibet" at the hands of the Chinese.
Wild Women – Gentle Beasts: Anka Schmid brings her docu-feature on women from all parts of the world who tame wild beasts for circus performances.
The Tale of Iya: Tetsuichiro Tsuta’s film looks at a rural community in a tiny hamlet whose pastoral way of life is under threat.
Zero Motivation: Director Talya Lavie’s comedy drama follows the mid-adventures of two soldiers trying to fit into their mandatory service in the Israel Defence Forces. The idea for the full-length feature came to the director from her short film, The Substitute (2006) which you can watch here. Zero Motivation was Israel’s most successful film of 2014.
The Wolfpack: This documentary, a Sundance Grand Jury winner, is about an American couple that home-schooled and raised their seven children in a New York apartment.
Yallah! Underground: The documentary follows some of the most influential and progressive music artists in Arab underground culture from 2009 to 2013 and follows their work, dreams and fears.
DIFF 2015 will also screen Joshua Oppenheimer’s award-winning documentaries The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence. Brian Knappenberger’s documentary, The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, will also be shown.
In Tashi and the Monk, a man of the cloth returns to India from America to look after unwanted children.
Hope: French director Boris Lojkine’s movie follows African migrants trekking across the continent’s most inhospitable landscapes to reach Europe.
Concrete Night: A coming of age film about a 14 year old boy’s quest to find his true calling, which will lead him to an unexpected discovery.
Flapping In The Middle Of Nowhere: The Variety trade journal has lauded director Diep Hoang Nguyen’s film for its "universal feminist resonance to this story of a pregnant teen whose plans for an abortion are repeatedly obstructed by financial and romantic complications".
Body: The Polish drama by Małgorzata Szumowska is described as "a complex meditation on the loneliness of the heart and the conflict between the rational and belief in a supernatural universe". The film won a Silver Bear for Best Director at this year's Berlin International Film Festival.
In the short film section, the Oscar-nominated Butterlamp will be shown. Indian shorts include Ahalya by Sujoy Ghosh, I Am Yet to See Delhi by Humaira Bilkis, Khidki by Sonia Saharan, GC Ki Issi Tissi by Ashish Nehra, Ubeity by Imon Raza, and Umesh Kulkarni’s Makkhi.