DIFF was founded by filmmakers/artists Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam with the aim to promote contemporary cinema, art and independent media practices in the Indian Himalayan region. As long-term residents of Dharamshala, they wanted to provide a non-partisan public space where Dharamshala’s diverse population could come together and interact with each other, drawn by the common language of cinema. They launched the first edition of DIFF in November 2012, with each edition showcasing contemporary features and documentaries, a selection of shorts, animation and experimental films, curated from the best of Indian and international independent cinema.

Over the years, the festival has become one of India’s most prominent independent film festivals and is known for its adventurous and eclectic programming, and as a crossroads for multicultural exchange, creative reflection and discussion. The festival also runs a carefully designed community outreach programme that aims to bring a diverse audience to attend the main festival, and organises community screenings and innovative opportunities to foster discussion and critical thinking among the local community, particularly among the younger population.

The 12th edition of DIFF will take place in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala from 3 to 6 November 2023, and an online programme with selected films will be accessible to viewers for a longer period of time.

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.

DIFF 2023 will be held as a hybrid edition starting 3 November. The physical event will take place in McLeod Ganj from 3 to 6 November. The online edition will be accessible for a longer period.
1. Please indicate if you wish to make your film available for our online programme.

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 2022 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 by 20th September 2023.

10. Selected films must confirm participation in the festival and send in the required promotional materials within 3 days of receiving the notification. The required promotional materials include: 4 film stills (TIFF or JPEG, min. 10 x 4 inches at 300 dpi), 1 director headshot (TIFF or JPEG, min. 3 x 5 inches at 300 dpi), digital press notes (PDF, must include production credits, synopsis, and director biography), digital film poster (high res). For feature length films a digital trailer/clip is also required. 

11. Selected films cannot be withdrawn once the agreement has been signed.

12. DIFF will not pay a screening fee or delivery fee for the selected films.

13. Selected films need to send downloadable DCP or movie files.

14. 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.

15. Submitted films should not contain any content which violates/infringes copyright.

16. 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.

17. DIFF reserves the rights to use the posters/video clippings/trailers of the selected films for promotion on social media and its partner platforms.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. In case of films produced by a film institute, government agency, educational institute or any other organization, 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.

21. The submitted film should not be under any kind of legal dispute.

22. An Indian censor board certificate is not required, but all selected films are subject to clearance from the Central Board of Film Certification Board of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Overall Rating
  • Rahul Roye

    Trust me I'm not being biased an ounce, but DIFF is truly the best film festival in the Indian diaspora.

    November 2022
  • It was a pleasure to attend DIFF 2022.

    I am honored and grateful to the organizing committee for screening our film at DIFF 2022.

    November 2022
  • The best festival in India. DIFF is a community in itself, is ever expanding and ever welcoming.

    November 2022
  • Srishti Lakhera

    This is a great festival with a lot of reach in India.
    DIFF team is very professional and communicates and asks for filmmakers' permission at every stage which is steeped in consent-based relation. I am very happy that we started screening Ek Tha Gaon|Once Upon A Village in India with DIFF.

    November 2021
  • Jon Cuyson

    I am extremely honored to have my short film Nanay Cleo's Dream be a part of an amazingly curated and well-organized festival. Thank you, DIFF!

    November 2021