It’s been a year since we last posted an update. In the meantime, a lot of things have happened, including a serious attack on our website, which took us down for a while. But thanks to our friends at Srijan Technologies and our new webmaster, Tseten Dolkar, we are back in action.
In October, When Hari Got Married had its world premiere at Films From the South in Oslo. We had sold out shows and a surprisingly enthusiastic audience response. An extra show was added to the three scheduled ones. Screenings at DOK Leipzig and our very own Dharamshala International Film Festival followed. Hari, Suman and baby Anjali were present at the packed screening in Dharamshala, where the film was greeted by non-stop laughter from beginning to end. When Hari and family took to the stage for the Q&A there was thunderous applause. Asked whether Anjali would have an arranged marriage, both Hari and Suman, much to the delight of the audience, replied emphatically that she would be free to choose her partner!
Since then the film has screened at several international film festivals, including IDFA Amsterdam; the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa; One World Film Festival, Prague; CAAMfest San Francisco; Jeonju International Film Festival, South Korea; the New York Indian Film Festival; and the New Taipei City Film Festival, Taiwan. When Hari Got Married is now slated for broadcast on PBS as part of the Global Voices series. The first broadcast is scheduled for Sunday, 16 June 2013.
For years, we had talked about doing something to bring contemporary art and cinema to Dharamshala. Last year, finally, we set up White Crane Arts & Media, a non-profit trust dedicated to promoting contemporary art, cinema and independent media practices in the Himalayan region. Our first two projects were the Dharamshala International Artists’ Workshop and the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF).
The artists’ workshop was conducted in Dharamshala from 20th October to 1st November in collaboration with Delhi-based Khoj International Artists’ Association. 13 India-based and international artists, including two local Tibetan artists, participated in what turned out to be an immensely fruitful and rewarding meeting of creative minds. The works that came out of the workshop were exhibited at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts and at various site-specific locations around Dharamshala and coincided with the opening of the Dharamshala International Film Festival, which took place from 1st to 4th November.
In its first edition, DIFF showcased 26 of the best contemporary Indian and international films, including features, documentaries and shorts. The aim was not only to bring quality independent films to the mountains but to promote and encourage local filmmaking talent. With this in mind, filmmakers from India and abroad were invited to present their films and participate in a range of masterclasses and panel discussions. In the event, DIFF was a huge success, far surpassing our wildest dreams. It is now set to be an annual event.
The Dharamshala International Artists’ Workshop and the inaugural edition of DIFF would not have been possible without the support of numerous organisations and individuals. Chief among them were: the Prince Claus Fund, the Netherlands; Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna; the Himachal Pradesh Government’s Department of Tourism; the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, New York; Isdell Foundation, New York; Sanjiv Sharma; and Jim Forster.
We were also exceptionally fortunate to have a dedicated, multi-tasking team helping us who ensured that everything went without a hitch (or at least appeared to go off without a hitch!). Special thanks to Wen, Torty, Anto, Jampa, Pratyush, Oona, Shaistha, Divya, David, Mila and our many volunteers.
Now, we are hard at work preparing for the next edition of DIFF, which will take place from 24th to 27th October this year. Torty (Victoria Conner) is our festival producer and we hope to make this an even more amazing festival with some very special guests and films.
The White Cranes remain committed, excited and eager to break new pathways! More in the next update.