This year marks DIFF’s third fully fledged community outreach programme, in which we hold carefully curated independent film screenings and activities on the doorsteps of Dharamshala’s diverse populations, as well as drawing local audiences into the main festival itself.

Community Screenings

Throughout September and October, DIFF once again partnered with Jagori Rural Charitable Trust and the National Film Development Corporation to show films at around 20 locations, including five Gaddi villages, three women’s collectives, six schools and colleges, and Dharamshala District Jail. Films selected included the shorts Kush (2013), Little Hands (2013), The School Bag (2016) and Juice (2017), and the features Mukti Bhawan (2016) and Turup (2017). The audiences, which included viewers from age five up to senior adults, engaged in a series of lively post-screening discussions, covering topics from cheating and loyalty in the classroom to gendered roles in the home and the hand of fate in our mortality.

Film Appreciation Competition

This year’s Schools Film Appreciation Competition commenced with an initial assignment for students from six schools to write about their favourite movies. 26 participants were subsequently selected to take part in outreach workshops, where they were introduced to the concept of active and critical engagement with cinema. These students attended a screening of Shubashish Bhuitiani’s short Kush (2013) on DIFF’s opening day, which was followed by group discussions, moderated by children’s film specialist Monica Wahi; and a final assignment.  The film was a revelatory history lesson to many of the students in its depiction of the events following the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the consequences for one young Sikh boy. Senior Category winner Tenzin Kun-sang of Upper TCV School wrote of the “total shock” you get when “suddenly your own ethnic group becomes a victim, being a minority.” The winners were selected by a jury comprising Monica, film writer Aseem Chhabra and local poet Tenzin Tsundue. The competition was held in partnership with NFDC India.

Children’s and Students’ Programmes

As part of DIFF’s broader mission to develop a cinema culture in the Dharamshala area, local school and college students will once again be invited to attend screenings of films at DIFF 2018 that are suitable for students in higher education.