After two years of being forced online by the pandemic, the 11th edition of India’s Dharamshala Film Festival is back with a physical edition.
Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Dharamshala is best known internationally as the seat of the Dalai Lama, who has been based there since being exiled from Tibet in 1959. The festival directors Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam are filmmakers in their own right. Their chronicles of the Tibetan condition including 2005’s “Dreaming Lhasa,” 2010’s “The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom” and 2018’s “The Sweet Requiem” have received considerable festival play, including at Toronto and San Sebastian.
Indian program highlights include Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s Venice and El Gouna title “Once Upon a Time in Calcutta”; Parth Saurabh’s San Sebastian winner “Pokhar Ke Dunu Paar” (“On Either Sides of the Pond”); Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh’s 2022 Oscar Nominee, “Writing with Fire”; Shaunak Sen’s Sundance and Cannes winner “All That Breathes”; and Ajitpal Singh’s Sundance selection “Fire in the Mountains.”
The India premieres of acclaimed international films include Hot Docs and Thessaloniki winner “Eternal Spring” (Canada) by Jason Loftus; Malaga winner “Lullaby” (Spain) by Alauda Ruiz de Azúa; Venice title “Mother Lode” (Italy/France/Switzerland) by Matteo Tortone; Sundance winner “Navalny” (U.S.) by Daniel Roher; Cannes selection “Neptune Frost” (Rwanda/U.S.) by Anisia Uzeyman, Saul Williams; and Venice winner “They Carry Death” (Spain/Colombia) by Helena Girón and Samuel M. Delgado.
Given the festival’s setting, a hot ticket title is Donagh Coleman’s Tibetan and English-language “Tukdam: Between Worlds” (Finland/Ireland/Estonia), which has previously played in Galway and Helsinki and explores a form of Tibetan meditation that preserves the body after death.
In all, the festival will screen 80 films from 32 countries, including 21 feature narratives, 16 feature documentaries and 43 shorts.
The festival will take place at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Nov. 3-6. A digital edition of DIFF 2022 will go online from Nov. 7-13 with a shorter lineup.
Festival director Ritu Sarin said, “As we come out of two years of COVID-19, we’ve had a bumper crop of amazing new films from across India and the world to select from. It’s been a really difficult challenge for our selection team to sift through so many fine films and we’ve had many long discussions and debates before deciding on the final program. We’re looking forward to once again welcoming audiences and filmmakers to live, breathe, and talk cinema for a few days in the beautiful surroundings of McLeod Ganj.”