The Dharamshala Film Festival Film Fellows initiative aims to encourage and develop filmmaking talent in the Himalayan regions of India by inviting five young up-and-coming filmmakers to attend DIFF and participate in events including screenings of the best of contemporary independent cinema, and masterclasses and workshops conducted by industry professionals, with whom they will also have the opportunity to engage in one-to-one mentor-ship sessions.
THE FELLOWS 2017
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.
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).
As anyone who’s spent time in Dharamshala knows, the town crams a massively diverse population into a pretty small municipality—Gaddi villagers, Tibetan refugees, Paharis, Kashmiris, Nepalis, Punjabis, migrant workers, ex-pats—occupied in an equally diverse range of professions. The prospect of engaging with such an array of communities can be overwhelming but, having initiated a range of outreach projects over the past years, we are proud to develop and expand them for DIFF 2018.
This September and October, DIFF is partnering with Jagori Rural Charitable Trust to show a selection of films, followed by discussions, in local schools, colleges, villages and at Dharamshala District Jail.
Building on last year’s Special Screening, around 60 students from two schools for students with special educational needs and six mainstream schools will be invited to DIFF’s opening day to watch a short film, interact in drama and art activities and share lunch together.
Film Appreciation Competition
Our Schools’ Film Appreciation competition is also expanding this year, with around 40 students from six schools being introduced to the concept of active and critical engagement with cinema. The competition will include outreach workshops in October, a screening, discussion and assignment at Upper TCV on November 1, and an awards presentation on DIFF 2018’s opening night.
Children’s and Students’ Programmes
As well as reaching out to local audiences, DIFF aims to draw them in to the festival, and this year will invite around ten local schools to attend our Children’s Programme and a further ten local colleges to attend an adults’ screening.