As the Mumbai Film Festival comes to a close, the Dharamsala International Film Festival (DIFF) will begin from 1 November. Set in McLeodganj, a dreamy town in Himachal Pradesh that quietly transforms into an unlikely destination for cinephiles to sample cinema from across the world, the festival will go on till 5 November.
In its 7th edition, DIFF will see over 50 number of regional, local, and international films, including some that have already traveled to several festivals worldwide.
Here are seven films that you don't want to miss at DIFF 2018.
1. The Gold-Laden Sheep and the Sacred Mountain
Set against the backdrop of the pastoral Gaddi community of Himachal Pradesh, The Gold-Laden Sheep and the Sacred Mountain is one of the rare films that were made in the Gaddi dialect. It consisted of a crew entirely of people with zero to very little experience of filmmaking and almost all actors unfamiliar with the craft of acting. Though limited in resources, Ridham Janve's directorial is rich with ambition as it explores abstract themes of existentialism and mysticism as well as the might of nature by trailing a bunch of shepherds. Recently screened at the Mumbai Film Festival in the India Gold section, the film had cinephiles queuing up up, garnering a lot of acclaim.
Director Devashish Makhija, whose controversial second film Ajji played at the Mumbai Film Festival in 2017, returns to the festival circuit with a politically-charged drama. Manoj Bajpayee, who plays a retired cop, leads the cast in this film that explores rising communal tensions between Maharashtrians and migrant families from North India. The film premiered at the Busan Film Festival and more recently was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival, with Bajpayee's nuanced performance winning accolades.
3. Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon
Marking the directorial debut of theatre actor Anamika Haksar, Ghode Ko... has been slowly generating tremendous buzz for its novel way of blending documentary with magic realism as it takes the viewer into the lives of economically marginalised people of society. About two hours long, the film set in the buzzing, sweaty lanes of Old Delhi paints a realistic portrait of the struggles of a disenfranchised section.
4. The Red Phallus
Directed by Bhutanese filmmaker and former journalist Tashi Gyeltshen, The Red Phallus won the prestigious FIPRESCI award at the Busan International Film Festival, 2018. The film, set in a remote Bhutanese village, explores a father-daughter relationship as the aging father plans to retire while the young woman faces overwhelming oppression from family, the village, her friends and even at her home as she gets into a relationship with a man from a lower caste.
You can watch the trailer here.
Directed by eight women filmmakers, Waru is a film centering on the funeral of a young boy who dies at the hands of his caregiver. The film premiered at the New Zealand International Film Festival that said, "Waru weaves multiple reactions and offers a glimpse into the events that ensue upon the killing of a child and the conflict created among loved ones." The film, a collection of eight shorts, offers a searing portrait on the trauma and horror of child abuse.
Georgia's official entry to the Academy Awards, Namme, directed by Zaza Khalvashi, premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival to critical acclaim. Featuring a mix of theatre and non-professional actors, the film is inspired by national legends, myths, and folklore and explores themes of mysticism and what happens when it clashes with modern technological forces.
7. Raghu Rai, an Unframed Portrait
Directed by Rai's daughter Avani, the documentary trails the famed Indian photographer as he goes about one of his assignments in violent-prone Kashmir. The film captures both, Rai's life as a photographer and that of his subject, Kashmir, where tranquility is only a moment away from impending tragedy. The film offers a window into the craft of one of India's most well-known photographers while also exploring his relationship with his daughter, who struggles to carve her own identity outside the lens of the legendary photographer.