Mumbai: After a successful maiden festival in 2021, The Himalayan Film Festival (THFF) is all set to unveil its 2nd edition, once again bringing the magic of Indian cinema beyond the mainstream, to the landscapes of the Himalayas. Organized by the Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) of the Administration of Union Territory of Ladakh, in collaboration with Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, THFF is poised to showcase a diverse array of cinema, ranging from mainstream gems to compelling documentaries, and captivating short films. Nestled in the heart of Ladakh, The Himalayan Film Festival promises an enriching cinematic experience that showcases the talent of Himalayan filmmakers. The festival is scheduled to take place from 29 September to 3 October 2023.
The festival presents an exciting lineup of events that not only captivate audiences but also engage and empower filmmakers. The festival's offerings include the Screenwriters Lab, Short Film Competition, Photography Workshop, and Masterclasses, curated by esteemed professionals from the Indian film industry, apart from the array of films that the festival will showcase over the five day duration.
Activities at The Himalayan Film Festival 2023
Photography Workshop with Achal Mishra:
For amateur photographers from Ladakh keen to hone their skills, The Himalayan Film Festival is hosting an exclusive photography workshop led by photographer and filmmaker, Mishra. Hailing from the city of Darbhanga in Bihar, Mishra’s debut feature film Gamak Ghar premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival, and was awarded the Manish Acharya Award for New Voices in Indian Cinema. This one-day, hands-on workshop is designed to elevate one's photography skills amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Ladakh. As part of the interactive session, Achal will also display some of his own work to illustrate different aspects of the craft, including the editing and sequencing process.
Short Film Competition:
THFF invited filmmakers across the 12 Himalayan States/UTs of India who find inspiration in the rugged beauty and majestic allure of the mountains to participate in their Short Film Competition. The competition this year is themed 'The Mountains Are Calling,' and offers a stage for budding filmmakers to showcase their craft and learn from some of the best in the industry. A distinguished jury will select the top 15 films for screening. The three best films will receive a generous cash prize at the closing ceremony of the film festival.
True to its commitment, THFF showcases an exceptional selection of films from across India, with a special emphasis on content from Ladakh in particular and the Himalayan states in general. The festival boasts an exciting film lineup that includes acclaimed titles like ‘Haqeeqat’ which was filmed in Ladakh, ‘Jubilee,’ ‘Tora's Husband,’ ‘Spawo (Warrior)’, ‘Ama (Mother)’, ‘Jungwa: The Broken Balance’, ‘Lunana: A Yak In the Classroom,’ ‘Por Thozhil,’ ‘Sunpat,’ the evergreen ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’ among others, promising a cinematic journey that spans emotions, narratives, and cultures.
The Screenwriters Lab:
The Screenwriters Lab, an initiative tailored to empower and amplify the voices of budding Ladakhi filmmakers, is set to provide an immersive experience that nurtures talent and encourages the exploration of innovative storytelling. Through intensive mentoring sessions led by Satyanshu Singh, participants will have the privilege to refine their craft under the guidance of a National Award-winning filmmaker, writer, and esteemed professor of cinema. Satyanshu Singh, known for his exceptional contributions to the world of cinema, brings his expertise to the table. His directorial debut short, "Tamaash," and his debut feature, "Chintu Ka Birthday," have not only garnered critical acclaim but also earned prestigious awards. With a rich background as a script consultant for prominent OTT platform SonyLIV, Satyanshu's debut web series, "Jehanabad," continues to captivate audiences. Selected participants will have the opportunity to pitch their projects to executives from major OTT platforms who will be present at the festival. This is a great opportunity for budding talent from Ladakh to shape their dreams.
Renowned filmmakers, industry experts, and luminaries are all set to grace the event. Amit Sharma, Rima Das, and Dominic Megam Sangma lead the esteemed jury for the short film competition, adding a layer of expertise to the evaluation process. The festival will also welcome the presence of distinguished filmmakers and actors like Janhvi Kapoor, Kenny Deori Basumatary and Vikramaditya Motwane, among others who will share their insights and experiences through masterclasses and various other discussions.
Union Territory of Ladakh administration commissioner/secretary & information Padma Angmo, talking about the second edition of The Himalayan Film Festival said, “We received a great response during the first edition of The Himalayan Film Festival in 2021.The primary aim of organizing the festival is to provide a platform to local Ladakhi filmmakers to showcase their films, to encourage local talent, build their capacity, connect them to experts and the market. It is a small community, but one that is very active and very creative. We hope that they will benefit from the opportunity to network with established filmmakers from other parts of the country. We hope that filmmakers from across the country, and the world, see Ladakh as a filmmaking destination, and utilise local talent in their filmmaking endeavors.”
Kapoor, who will be participating in a masterclass at The Himalayan Film Festival 2023 said, “The Himalayan Film Festival is a great way for filmmakers from the Himalayan regions to showcase their talent and learn from industry experts. The festival will also provide an opportunity for viewers to see a variety of films and interact with filmmakers from across the country! I am really looking forward to it!”
Motwane, whose webseries ‘Jubilee’ will be screened during the festival and who will be participating in a masterclass at The Himalayan Film Festival 2023 said, "I think the Himalayan Film Festival is very important, not just for film lovers who get the chance to actually listen to speakers, watch a lot of movies and experience something like this, but I think it is also important for local filmmakers to be able to access and learn tools that will enable them to go out there and create their film. The more we take cinema to different corners of the country, the better it is for everybody."
Mishra, fronting the Photography Workshop at The Himalayan Film Festival 2023 said, “I feel a film festival’s purpose shouldn’t just be bringing films from outside to a local audience, but also to give a platform to the local filmmakers and their films. And I’m happy that The Himalayan Film Festival is doing just that for Ladakh, a place I dearly love, and which has been my second home for the last 5-6 years.”
Das, whose film ‘Tora’s Husband’ will be screened during the festival and who will be a part of the jury for the Short Film Competition at The Himalayan Film Festival 2023 said, "India is such a diverse country with so many wonderful stories still untapped and unexplored. I am so happy that The Himalayan Film Festival is creating a platform to empower budding filmmakers, expose them to different kinds of films and nurture their talent."
Sangma, who is part of the jury for the Short Film Competition at The Himalayan Film Festival 2023 said, “Festivals like THFF are like a bridge that connects two or more regions, helping the local community get more exposure to the world of cinema, and at the same time help reveal talent from this region to the world outside. Films from Himalayan regions hardly get represented in mainstream cinema, but festivals like this give that opportunity to showcase the works from this region. Anybody who wants to make films or loves cinema should take full advantage of this event by attending all programmes, meeting people and networking.”
Sharma, who will be participating in a masterclass and is part of the jury for the Short Film Competition at The Himalayan Film Festival 2023 said, "Before IPL came to India, we had only 11 cricketers. But after IPL, we had multiple teams playing in different countries. This is what happens when you have film festivals. We get to tap into the talent in the region. Festivals like The Himalayan Film Festival help artists nurture their talent through which they can really experience working in the film industry. They can make their own short films, they can get into ad films, and they can get into feature films. I think it’s a brilliant thing that's happening, and film festivals have always helped people who want to be filmmakers.”
Filmmaker and actor Kenny Deori Basumatary, whose film ‘Local Utpaat’ will be screened during the festival and who will be participating in a masterclass at The Himalayan Film Festival 2023 said, “A film festival can be a life-changing experience. While I'd wanted to be a filmmaker since my school days, it was a film festival at the Indian Habitat Centre in Delhi that gave me further encouragement to pursue this ambition. Whenever people ask me about becoming filmmakers, I tell them to make lots of shorts. Film festival competitions help give one an idea of kaun kitne paani mein hai. And workshops with industry professionals are very very important, because we learn some vital details from working people. For example, even after fifteen years, I remember Sriram Raghavan's advice on using Indian cinema's interval point to our advantage.”
Mentor of the Screenwriters Lab at The Himalayan Film Festival 2023, filmmaker and screenwriter Satyanshu Singh said, “It makes me immensely happy to be associated with The Himalayan Film Festival as a mentor. It is a fertile ground for local filmmakers to hone their skills through workshops and masterclasses. The festival is set to bring cinema from the corners of the country to the forefront, a treat to cinephiles.”