Last year, the Academy disqualified the film Lunana: A Yak In The Classroom as Bhutan lacked an officially recognised selection committee. This time, the film has been officially selected by Oscars and mentioned in its shortlist for the Best International Feature Film. This is the first time Bhutan, along with Kosovo and Panama made the cut.
The film is directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji and is the second South Asian film to be shortlisted since 1999. The rights of the Bhutanese Drama film has been acquired by Samuel Goldwyn Films for North America.
The plot helms about a young teacher from Thimpu, the capital city of Bhutan, being assigned to teach at a school in Lunana, which is a secluded glacial village that can only be reached on foot. The teacher is named Ugyen Dorji, who is a government-employed teacher and has one eye on his music career in Australia. The story is about Ugyen and his desire to leave the “world’s happiest country.”
10 things to know about this Oscar-shortlisted film:
– The lead role of Ugyen is played by Sherab Dorji and the role of his ailing grandmother is played by Tsheri Zom.
– Ugyen has nothing tying him to Bhutan other than his ailing grandmother. He wants to leave the country for Australia to pursue his music career and the film pans his life as the government school teacher in a small secluded village.
– The film is directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji.
– In 2019, the film premiered at the BFI London Film Festival.
– Last year, it won the audience award at Palm Springs Film Festival.
– The president of Samuel Goldwyn Films, Peter Goldwyn said, “Lunana: A Yak In The Classroom is like a fresh air during these dark and uncertain times. Pawo Choyning Dorji has made a film about what connects us as humans with so much heart that we are certain that it will connect with the viewers.”
– According to the Deadline review of the film, the cinematographer Jigme Tenzing does not deploy shooting techniques, but it is the simplicity of the film that wins the heart.
– The film was submitted last year by the Ministry of Information and Technology of Bhutan to the Academy but was considered ineligible because Bhutan did not have a proper official committee.
– Last year, Bhutan formed a new committee society, which included Khyentse Norbu, the director of Bhutan’s Oscar entry in the year 1999 film, The Cup. This committee unanimously selected the film as the country’s official entry.
– The film was released in the year 2019 and marked the debut of Pawo Choyning Dorji as writer and director.