To coincide with 100 years of Indian cinema, the first edition of a week-long “Delhi International Film Festival” screening 150 films from 70 countries will be held in the Capital on December 21.

Making the announcement at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday, Bollywood film-maker Tigmanshu Dhulia said the festival will put Delhi on the map of international film festivals as the Capital will be connected to the world of cinema.

“We get to watch fantastic meaningful films from various corners of the globe at festivals only. Pirated DVDs of such films are never made. One of the reasons why I became a film-maker was because I used to regularly watch films of different countries at festivals in Allahabad. Delhi also has budding film-makers who need to get exposure to world cinema.”

Noting that numerous international film festivals existed in big cities like New York, London, Paris and Beijing, Tigmanshu said festivals also exist in smaller towns. In India, international film festivals do exist in many cities like Mumbai, Goa, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram but regretfully Delhi was deprived of such a festival.

“After a gap of two years, the 12 edition of Osian’s Cinefan Festival of India, Asian and Arab Cinema came back to Delhi. We need to have more such film festivals so that the younger generation can remain engrossed with films, discussions and interactive workshops for at least 20 to 25 days in a year.”

Actor Shiney Ahuja, who is part of the advisory board, said he had a number of fond memories of Delhi as he grew up in the city. “I was a student at Army Public School and later studied at Hansraj College of Delhi University. It feels good to know that an international film festival is coming to Delhi for the first time. It will give an important platform to the young generation of film-makers.”

According to DIFF president Ramkishore Parcha, the festival also marks 100 years of Delhi as the Capital. “The city will get its first-ever international film festival which bears its name. During the past 65 years since Independence, none of the international film festivals was ever named after Delhi. Unfortunately, the international film festival which used to be organised in Delhi every alternate year, shifted to Goa.”

He announced that noted Malayalam film-maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan will be chairman of the advisory board of the festival. “He is the senior most film-maker in our country and so many directors look up to him. So we have a big team of creative film-makers in our country. Of course, film-makers from overseas would be coming. This festival will be bigger than Osian’s Cinefan because it only showed Asian and Arab film whereas we would screen 150 films from 70 countries.”

Centenarian and grand old lady of Indian cinema and theatre Zohra Sehgal will be given a befitting tribute for her contribution to cinema with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Trailer of film Oass on the humiliation and deprivation faced by an 11-year-old girl sold in a brothel in Delhi was screened on the occasion. It will be an important film to be screened at the festival.

The world section will see screenings of films like The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius, Love Bird by Susan Collins and Daughters of Hill by Patrizia Landi.

Focus will be on Israeli cinema which has seen production of films on “holocaust and family matters handled with honesty and sensitivity”.