The second Ladakh International Film Festival (LIFF) started at Leh on Friday. Among others, Afghanistan's ambassador Shaida Mohammad Abdali was also present at the inauguration of the festival.
This year, noted film-maker and lyricist Gulzar along with other film personalities, including Aparna Sen, Vishal Bhardwaj and Rakyesh Omprakash, are attending the three-day festival. Shyam Benegal is the chairman of LIFF. "Mere Apnay", the first film made by Gulzar, was screened as the premiere show of the festival.
The festival has been divided into national, international and local sections and 50 films in different sections will be screened.
State cabinet minister and local MLA Nawang Rigzin Jora in his address at the Sindhu Sanskriti Kendra, Leh, said cinema has impact on local economy as films shot here attract tourists. He said visits by people from the film world also attract tourists.
Chief executive councillor, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, Rigzin Spalbar said film world should also keep focus on conservation of local fragile environment of the area.
He said the objective of holding the festival is to highlight Ladakh as the important destination for the film-making world both nationally and internationally. Spalbar appreciated the efforts of the festival founder and director Melwyn Willams and Meghna Dubey for their initiative.
Gulzar, in his address, said it is the beginning of a new era of opportunities wherein the young filmmakers particularly from Ladakh could explore new ideas.
The Afghan ambassador said cinema is an important medium for significant cultural exchanges and reviving historical ties. He said Hindi films are extremely popular in Afghanistan. Ladakh and Afghanistan have similar geographical terrain, he added.
Leh deputy commissioner Simrandeep Singh and SP Vivek Gupta also attended the inauguration of the festival.