India, home to diverse forms of cinema, plays host to numerous film festivals that showcase talent across styles and genres.
Whether large scale festivals that showcase both big budget and independent films, or festivals made solely for the small-budget ones, film festivals in India are beginning to gain a steady ground. Even as Bollywood remains the object of focus when one thinks of Indian cinema, the landscape is slowly changing. Through the year, the country plays host to film festivals catering to a whole range of audiences, including focus on international and regional cinema. Here are four festivals that are great choices for those in the country to discover cinema and talent that isn’t limited to the big names of Bollywood.
Mumbai Film Festival
Among the most celebrated events of the year, the festival is a grand affair. Held in Mumbai, a city in the western Indian state of Maharashtra and home to Bollywood, it is attended by A-listers of Bollywood as well as lovers of independent cinema. Even as it showcases cinema from across the globe, independent cinema from India, with regional cinema as well, find a great platform. Running since 1990, feature films, documentary films and short films are some of the forms of films on display. It has also come to be nicknamed the MAMI festival as it is organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Images. The festival does much to promote cinema from the state it is organised in and has seen a special section dedicated to Marathi cinema.
Bring Your Own Film Festival
Bring Your Own Film Festival or BYOFF is a unique festival that is inclusive and independent in truest sense of the terms. Around the month of Feburary, BYOFF storms the beaches of Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha. This festival was first organised in 2004 and has since been an annual affair. Films are screened across installations on the beach and once the sun is down, they can be viewed. Without a rigorous registration process, deadlines or tight guidelines, BYOFF hopes to offer a sense of freedom to filmmakers while offering a platform for exhibiting their craft, networking with others and truly having an immersive experience in the waves of independent cinema from India.
Kolkata International Film Festival
The Kolkata International Film Festival or KIFF is another celebrated film festival of India that is attended in large numbers. As the name suggests, it is held in the cultural capital of the country, Kolkata, in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. The 22nd edition of the festival was held last year. The festival is a showcase of talents from across the world and has only become a competitive festival in 2014 despite its long run. Held for a week-long period in November each year, the festival showcases classics of cinema, Indian selections, international cinema as well as documentaries, among others.
Dharamshala International Film Festival
A festival that is organised around the end of the year, Dharamshala International Film Festival or DIFF is the result of talent from the region organising themselves to make space for others. It takes place in the hill town of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, which is close to a large settlement of Tibetan refugees. Hence, Indians, Tibetans and filmmakers find a platform in this film festival, which has been making waves for its content since it was first held in 2012. DIFF is also known to showcase fiction, documentary and short films.