DIFF 2015: 'Body', 'Masaan' & 3 More Award Winning Films Join The Lineup!

By Yash Thakur. Posted on September 29, 2015

This winter, the mountains are the place to be with the Dharamshala International Film Festival showcasing some of the best Indian (and international) films of recent times. The festival announced the addition of 5 more films, making the yet to be completed list a highly anticipated one.

Now in it's 4th edition, the festival has already added quite a few interesting features to this years' lineup. DIFF 2015 will see the much talked about docu The Wolfpack to Joshua Oppenheimer's explosive documentaries. The programmers have now added Masaan, which besides Court, is one of the most acclaimed Indian films in recent times.

While Court was screened at Dharamshala last year, the former will be a part of the feature presentation this year. A debut drama directed by Neeraj Ghaywan, the film is the story of four protagonists, all connected by the fact that they are misfits in a world of small-town moralities. The film won two prizes at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, and got a theatrical release in the country too.

Another great Indian film, Placebo, has been added to the documentary section of this year's DIFF. Directed by Abhay Kumar, the film is a chilling examination of one of the most competitive institutions in the world, a premiere educational institute in New Delhi and the overwhelming pressure on its students from parents, faculty, administrators, other students, and themselves. Placebo is dubbed as a 'hybrid documentary' and has won accolades at various documentary film festivals.

Apart from it, Dharamshala will also see Brian Knappenberger's critically acclaimed documentary The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, a mesmerizing portrait of the Internet whiz kid's life and political convictions, which were cut short by his suicide in 2013. The festival will also showcase Boris Lojkine's Hope, a French drama which follows a young man from Cameroon who meets a Nigerian girl in the Sahara desert on his way to Europe; and Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska's Body, a powerful dramedy about a cynical prosecutor and single parent struggling with his daughter who suffers from a severe eating disorder and a psychic therapist who has a belief in ghosts. Read the full synopsis of the films and watch their incredibly amazing trailers below:

The 4th Dharamshala International Film Festival will take place from 5-8 November, 2015. To follow what's going on at the festival, check out their website. To get the latest updates from Dharamshala, do follow their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Masaan (dir: Neeraj Ghaywan)

Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan is a co-production backed by Manish Mundra's Drishyam Films, Phantom Films and French producers Melita Toscan du Plantier, Pathe and Arte. The film, written by Varun Grover, features four stories focused on characters from different castes and how their lives intersect along the Ganges river: a lower-caste boy in a hopeless love, a daughter torn with guilt, a father sinking in greed, and a spirited kid craving a family, all yearning to escape the constrictions of a small-town. Probably one of India's most celebrated film till date, Masaan won the FIPRESCI Award and the Promising Future prize at the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this year. The film has got some beautiful songs by veteran band Indian Ocean and some breathtaking visuals and was heralded by critics across the world with the New York Times calling it the "surest sign yet that a fresh crop of filmmakers is ushering Indian movies in a new direction."

Placebo (dir: Abhay Kumar)

According to Cleveland International Film Festival"Abhay is amongst 10 first time filmmakers who are breaking the mold at an early stage of their careers, presenting original visions, structures, and devices - thus proving film will forever be an evolving art form." Placebo is a eye opening film where four students from one of India's most premium institute agree to be followed for a year as part of this observational experiment. However, as the filmmaker starts infiltrating this complex mindscape of restless youth and soaring ambition, a starting new reality begins to emerge. The crowdfunded documentary picked up the Special Jury Prize for the Best Film at the EBS International Documentary Festival, finished '2nd in the Best Debut section at International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 2014' and also played at Hotdocs 2015.

The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (dir: Brian Knappenberger)

An award-winning feature-length documentary chronicling the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz, The Internet's Own Boy highlights his groundbreaking work in social justice and information access that pulled him into a two-year legal nightmare. The co-founder of Reddit (currently the most popular social news website in the world) and a programmer whose fingerprints are all over the internet, Aaron went on to commit suicide at the age of 26, due to the tremendous pressure that led to his breakdown. The film illuminates what society’s loses when it ignores the intertwined relationship between technology and civil liberties. Among it's accolades, the film has won the Best Doc Screenplay at the Writer's Guild of America and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Sundance and the SXSW Film Festivals respectively.

Hope (dir: Boris Lojkine)

A first feature by Boris Lojkine (who previously made two documentaries during his stay in Vietnam), Hope chronicles the struggles of Leonard and Hope as they make their way to Europe from the treacherous Sahara Desert. The film, which highlights the real-life risks of immigration and the fiercely hostile world that is ruled by corruption and poverty won the SADC and the Grand Golden Rail Awards at last years' Cannes Film Festival and two more awards at other festivals. From ghetto wars to dishonest officials, the two persists with their quest, having lost all their possessions, except for their hope.

Body (dir: Małgorzata Szumowska)

Set in present day Poland, Body explores the intertwined stories of a criminal prosecutor, his anorexic daughter and her therapist, who claims to be able to communicate with the dead. The three characters come together to offer explanations of what it means to live-viewing the body as an object, a site of loss, or a thing of beauty and hope. Directed by Malgorzata Szumowska, one of the most prominent Polish director of today, Body is not too different from her last venture In The Name Of (the film dealt with closeted gay Catholic priest living in rural Poland), which picked up the Teddy Award at the 63rd Berlinale and the Grand Jury Prize at the 32nd Istanbul Film Festival. Her latest work Body which deals with dark humour, religion and social issues got her the Silver Bear at the 65th Berlinale.


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