Announcing the DIFF Film Fellows for 2017


  • September 29, 2017



Dharamshala International Film Festival is pleased to announce the five participants in the fourth edition of the DIFF Film Fellows Programme which will be held during the festival in November 2017.

As part of DIFF’s vision to promote independent cinema in the mountains, the fellowship programme targets young up-and-coming filmmakers from the Indian Himalayan region. The five selected film fellows are provided the opportunity to attend DIFF 2017 and participate in its various events, including screenings of the best of contemporary independent cinema, masterclasses and workshops held by visiting filmmakers and industry professionals. The selected participants will also have the opportunity to engage in special one-to-one mentorship sessions with two accomplished and recognised filmmakers. The fellowship programme has been made possible this year with the support of the National Film Development Corporation of India.

The jury for the 2017 Film Fellows Programme consisted of film editor and artistic director of the International Film Festival of Kerala, Bina Paul, feature filmmaker Shubhashish Bhutiani and Tibetan-American documentary filmmaker Tenzin Tsetan Choklay.

Five young filmmakers – one from Manipur, one from Assam, one from Meghalaya and two from Himachal Pradesh – have been selected to attend the programme this year. Without further ado, we are happy to announce this year’s film fellows:

Siddharth Chauhan is an independent filmmaker from Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, where he began his career with Secret Corridor Pictures, a production house that aims to make films with local talent in Shimla.  His short films include Boys Don’t Wear Nailpolish! (2015) and Papa (2015), which have travelled to festivals as far afield as Europe, Sarajevo, Indonesia, New Zealand and China. Siddharth is currently writing his first feature-length screenplay.


A still from Siddharth Chauhan’s film Papa (2015)

Sazzad Hussain is a filmmaker from Guwahati, Assam. His passion for photography began as a child when he discovered his grandfather’s old camera, and he went on to study film in the SRM film school, Thane. He also trained as an actor at Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares in Mumbai, and enjoys participating in street plays and theatre. He has made a number of short films of which Choice (2016), won him the Media Blitz prize in 2017.

Renuka Soraisam is a filmmaker from Imphal, Manipur, who also works as a graphic designer and event manager. A graduate in advertising from the Sophia College for women in Mumbai, she pursued her master’s in mass communication at Manipur University. She is also associated with the Nachom Art Foundation, which she believes has given her a better understanding of contemporary expression.

Jenifer Datta, born in Tura, Meghalaya, has been making films since 2014. She has written, directed, edited four short films, the latest of which, Thank You For Watching (2017) is currently competing at festivals. She is currently penning her first feature-length film.

Piyush Kanga is an actor / director from Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh. Currently based in Shimla, he has written and directed a number of short films, including Dost (2016) — which was also screened as part of the community outreach programme at DIFF in 2016 — and Stuck-ed (2017).

The mentors for this year’s fellowship programme are National award-winning filmmaker Gurvinder Singh, who currently resides in Bir, Himachal Pradesh, and Nepali-Tibetan screenwriter and director, Kesang Tseten.

Gurvinder is an alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India, where he has taught alongside filmmaker Mani Kaul. His film Chauthi Koot (2015), which premiered at Cannes, was also screened at DIFF 2015.

Kesang is one of Nepal’s best-known documentary filmmakers. A graduate in journalism from Columbia University, US, he has directed a number of award-winning films including In Search of the Riyal (2009), Who Will Be a Gurkha (2012) and Castaway Man (2015).

We welcome the fellows and mentors to DIFF 2017 and hope they have an enriching and enjoyable experience.