A fest in Dharamsala

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SummaryA tourist destination, McLeodganj is famous for its snowy peaks, tea gardens, pine forests, and above all, the presence of the Dalai Lama.

Even as the glamour and glitz of films descends on Goa at the IFFI, we talk of a quieter, but by no means less significant, international film festival hosted by McLeodganj recently, where 30 films were screened in a town that does not even boast of a single movie theatre

A tourist destination, McLeodganj is famous for its snowy peaks, tea gardens, pine forests, and above all, the presence of the Dalai Lama. This year, the town has added a new attraction—films—even when it does not have a single movie theatre.

As McLeodganj hosted its first film fest, the Dharamshala International Film Festival earlier this month, people of the town got to see an eclectic mix of films. These were not the typical Bollywood masala flicks, but mostly documentaries, fictional features and short movies based on various aspects and people and made by movie makers globally. The festival screened 30 films, including Hansal Mehta’s Shahid, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s When Hari Got Married, Jennifer Fox’s My Reincarnation and Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi-directed Five Broken Cameras, to name just a few.

Most of these movies and their directors are internationally acclaimed. So why did they come to a place that does not even have a movie theatre to showcase their movies? “That is precisely why we wanted to have a film festival here. We wanted to bring people together and boost independent cinema. Also, a festival like this will inspire the youth in this area,” says Ritu Sarin, a Dharamsala-based film maker. The idea of having an international film festival in McLeodganj was the brainchild of Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, also the organisers of the event.

“We had been thinking about it for the last few years. We wanted to do something good for this area and the communities—both Indian, Tibetans—who live here,” adds Sonam.

Even though the event attracted a number of people from all over the country and was a success, it had its own teething troubles, including a few technical glitches. Even to coordinate with the state government departments was something that the organisers learnt on the job. “The state government has been very supportive. However, since it was our first time, we had a little problems at various levels. I am sure all this learning would help us have a better festival next year,” says Sarin.

There are several film festivals that take place across the country, including

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