The Dharamshala International Film Festival was started in 2012 by filmmakers and Dharamshala residents, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam. It is held annually in McLeod Ganj, a town with no cinemas that is best known as the exile home of the Dalai Lama. Focusing on showcasing the best of independent films from India and around the world, the festival has gained a reputation for its eclectic and adventurous programming, its beautiful mountain setting, and its intimate and cinema-literate atmosphere. DIFF attracts the finest indie filmmakers, film critics and film lovers from across the country and from abroad.

The Asian Age called the festival “India’s Sundance”. Leading film critic Namrata Joshi, a regular DIFF visitor, said: “It has now become a go-to event in my diary…I love the vibe, the intimacy, warmth, cheerfulness and the fact that it gives you space to breathe between films and absorb them.”

As a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 9th edition of the festival was held online from 29 Oct to 8 Nov 2020.

DIFF does not have awards. It operates in the belief that the celebration of good cinema does not require competition or the intrusion of market forces.

1. Due to uncertainty around the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, DIFF 2021 may be a hybrid version or have to move to an online platform.
2. Given that DIFF is a small festival that can showcase only a limited number of handpicked films, only films that are original in their story-telling and use of cinema language, and that meet the highest international standards, will have a chance of being selected.
3. All films should be independently produced. Independently produced films which have been acquired by digital platforms are also eligible for submission.
4. Films completed on or after 1st January 2020 are eligible for submission.
5. Films need to be a Dharamshala premiere.
6. Entries are accepted in all languages. All non-English language films should contain English subtitles.
7. Only HD format films are accepted.
8. All entry fees are non-refundable under all circumstances
9. Final status of the selected films will be notified in October 2021.
10. Selected films cannot be withdrawn once the festival programme is announced.
11. DIFF will not pay a screening fee or delivery fee for the selected films.
12. Selected films from outside of India need to send downloadable digital files.
13. All selection decisions will be final and binding upon the participants. DIFF is under no obligation to provide any feedback for selections or non-selections.
14. Submitted films should not contain any content which violates/infringes copyright.
15. Any content that promotes racism, hatred amongst communities or religions, gender discrimination, animal cruelty, and/or are religious/commercial propaganda films, will not be accepted.
16. DIFF reserves the rights to use the posters/video clippings/trailers of the selected films for promotion on social media and its partner platforms.
17. Selected films must provide all the required details of their films as per the format prescribed by DIFF, including the digital copy of the film. Exact specifications will be communicated for all selected films.
18. By submitting the film to DIFF, the applicant hereby confirms that she/he is the rightful owner of the film or has the right & authority to submit the film to DIFF for selection. The applicant also indemnifies DIFF from any legal claim or dispute that may arise from the submitted film.
19. In case of films produced by a film institute, government agency, educational institute or any other organisation, the applicant must provide written permission via mail (post selection) from the concerned authorities confirming the participation of the film in DIFF. Any kind of misrepresentation or failure to adhere to the norms of DIFF will lead to disqualification of the film.
20. The submitted film should not be under any kind of legal dispute.

Overall Rating
  • Mayura Dolas

    DIFF is without any doubt one of the most prestigious film festivals. It is a recognition that many filmmakers crave for. Though we missed the vibrant environment and networking due to the pandemic, they had chosen a trusted streaming partner to ensure smooth and secure programming.

    Looking forward to attend the future editions physically in the mountains!

    January 2021
  • Jaap Verhoeven

    Wonderful festival, great insightful people.Thanks!

    January 2021
  • Federico Barni

    Excellent festival and selection, and a very successful online experience in 2020.

    January 2021
  • Hamza Bangash

    Excellent experience + great curated selection!

    December 2020
  • Aarti Neharsh

    DIFF has earned such credibility over the years by showcasing some of the best films, and it was an honour to have my film as a part of this year's curation. Had a fantastic experience, despite it being virtual. I look forward to visiting the hills in the coming years and continue my association with DIFF :)

    December 2020