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 organizations 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. Thanks to the generous support of DIFF alumni filmmakers and various partner organisations, DIFF’s Virtual Viewing Room has brought quality cinema for free to viewers around the world. Now in our second year of taking the festival online, we eagerly look forward to reaching a wider audience online with another carefully curated lineup of exciting, unusual and eclectic films, along with interactive sessions that spark dialogue across our extended DIFF family.