When filmmakers and longtime Dharamshala residents Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam started the Dharamshala International Film Festival in 2012, their 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 attracts audiences from across the country and further afield. The core mission of DIFF, however, has remained the same: to build a community united by a love of cinema. Home to both Sarin and Sonam, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, has transformed from a sleepy town in the foothills of the Himalayas into a global destination: exile home to the Dalai Lama, capital of the Tibetan diaspora, and a magnet for tourists, artists and enterprising individuals alike. Dharamshala’s understated cosmopolitanism and thriving environment full of cafes, bookstores, restaurants and arts organisations has provided the ideal home for DIFF from its inception in 2012. .
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, DIFF has continued to collaborate remotely and found creative ways to engage with our audience. With the support of DIFF alumni filmmakers and various partner organisations, DIFF’s year-round Virtual Viewing Room has brought quality cinema for free to audiences. After two years of taking the festival online, and curated selections of films through these years, DIFF continues to reach a wider audience online with the DIFF Virtual Viewing Room.