When we started the Dharamshala International Film Festival in 2012, our main aim was to give the local community a platform to watch good alternative cinema. Ten years later, DIFF has become one of India’s leading independent film festivals and draws audiences from across the country and further afield.
Last year, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the world to unexpectedly and drastically change the way it functions. Everything we took for granted was uprooted and we were suddenly adrift in a strange and disturbing world with no bearings to help us navigate. In April, when India was under strict lockdown, we reached out to DIFF alumni filmmakers to ask if we could stream their films for free as a way of offering our audiences some respite from the unprecedented situation we found ourselves in. Their response was overwhelmingly generous and we launched the DIFF Viewing Room. The success of this initiative took us by surprise; audiences from around the world logged in to watch the films. This helped us to make the difficult decision to take DIFF online when it became apparent that there was no way we could hold a physical film festival in Dharamshala last year.
Although we missed DIFF’s intimate and informal atmosphere in its special location in the mountains, and the pleasure of watching movies with audiences in a cinema setting, the online ninth edition of DIFF continued to surprise and delight audiences with its carefully curated lineup of exciting, unusual and eclectic films. One advantage of the digital edition was that it was accessible to audiences from across South Asia so instead of “bringing independent cinema to the mountains”, we were “streaming independent cinema from the mountains”!
Building on the engagement from last year, the festival, as part of its year-round programme has now launched the DIFF Virtual Viewing Room, a platform where we continue to screen carefully curated packages of films from around the world. Our first offering is Films from the Oscar Season — six gripping films that were official entries in the 2021 Oscars — in collaboration with Gratitude Films Inc., and curated by veteran film programmer Anu Rangachar.
We do hope you enjoy our selection of films and Q&A sessions.