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New Delhi : Union Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Anurag Thakur on September 24, 2021, inaugurated a star-studded five- day ‘First Himalayan Film Festival’ at Sindhu Sanskriti Kendra, Leh, Union Territory of Ladakh.

The five-day film festival is a part of the celebrations of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ commemorating 75 years of India’s Independence. Keeping in view the PM’s call for ‘Jan Bhagidhari’, the film festival will have active participation from the local filmmakers and will showcase talent across 12 Himalayan states and UTs. Addressing the audience, Thakur said the Narendra Modi Government will give a new identity to the hill States and the I&B Ministry will work relentlessly towards that goal.

The Minister added that the Himalayan States have a diverse culture and have a lot to showcase. The youth of these States need opportunities to display their talent. Cinemas provides a platform to bring all cultural diversities together. Speaking about the valour of the people of Ladakh, Thakur said the people of the region stand shoulder to shoulder with our brave soldiers in protection of our borders. Movies like Shershaah remind many generations of the valour of our soldiers who fought bravely in the wars. Such movies are a great contribution that will inspire generations to come, Thakur said, according to a PIB release.

Speaking on the rising charm of OTT platforms, Thakur said that India is a country where the popularity of OTT platforms is increasing. This presents an opportunity, not just for the big states but even the smaller States of the country and soon Ladakh is going to find recognition even in international film festivals.

The Minister said that India is the fastest growing OTT market and it is the content that is drawing people to the OTT platforms. Power lies in content and India can become the subcontinent of content creation of the world. But we need to groom our people to produce that quality content. Post-production work for many international blockbusters was done in India and the sector along with gaming and visual graphics sector provide an immense space for growth, Thakur said.

Thakur said that there has been a persistent demand that Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh be connected with a film training institute. He subsequently announced that this idea will be implemented soon.

‘Shershaah’, the biographical war movie based on ‘Param Vir Chakra’ awardee Captain Vikram Batra, was also screened during the opening ceremony in the presence of its Director Vishnuvardhan and the lead actor Sidharth Malhotra.

Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, Member of Parliament from Leh, in his address praised the efforts of Ministry of I&B and the administration of the UT of Ladakh for organising this first ‘Himalayan Film Festival’ in Ladakh. He said that the organisation of this festival will create new vistas for the talented youth of Ladakh at the national and international platforms. Praising the efforts of PM Narendra Modi for creating a new dawn of development for the UT of Ladakh afterit became an UT, Namgyal said that Ladakh is making great strides in education, economy, health, infrastructure etc. now and the day is not far when Ladakh will be among the top most UTs in terms of development index in the country.

LG, Ladakh,  R K Mathur, in his address, said that movies are things of interconnectedness and the genesis of organising this film festival was to enthuse the best of talent from Ladakh for the national and international platforms and garnering of the skills of youth of Ladakh in photography, film, heritage and culture.

Besides screening of popular award winning films at the Sindhu Sanskriti Auditorium, Leh, to enthral the audience and film buffs, the film festival will be organisinga diverse set of workshops and master classes wherein filmmakers, critics, technicians from the Himalayan Region have been invited to impart knowledge and skill to the local film enthusiasts.

In the ongoing film festival, Short Films and Short Documentaries have also been invited in the ‘Competition Section’. A food festival showcasing the unique cuisines of Ladakh region, a cultural show showcasing the rich cultural varsity of Ladakh, and a music fest will be also be held during the ongoing film festival.

The five-day film festivalhas been organised by the Administration of Union Territory of Ladakh in collaboration with the Directorate of Film Festivals, Ministry of I&B, Government of India.

In the last two decades, the Independent film industry in the region has taken shape with filmmakers producing local-language films. The same period has also seen rapid electrification in the region which is the prerequisite for the development of the audio-visual sector.