English | Dzongkha Saturday, January 16, 2021

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom gets an official entry into the 93rd Academy Awards

Sep 16, 2020

The news of a Bhutanese movie getting an official acceptance to compete for a nomination at the Oscars is music to the Bhutanese ears especially during turbulent times like this. Directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, will represent Bhutan to compete for nominations at the 93rd Oscars to be held next year.

Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit for the film industry and is regarded as the most prestigious awards in the entertainment industry.

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom becomes the second Oscar entry from Bhutan since The Cup by Khyentse Rinpoche in 1999. Talking to BBS, Pawo Choyning Dorji said, the film has travelled around the world to numerous film festivals ever since the film’s world premiere at the London film festival last year. And upon receiving good feedback and advice from the festival organisers that the film should be submitted to the Oscars, he was encouraged to do so.

“So we officially started that process earlier this year and of course the Academy Awards actually needs the film to be submitted by the government. So I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Information and Communications Ministry, the Lyonpo, and the Secretary and all the staff who worked on submitting our film officially to the Academy Awards. The Academy Awards has officially accepted Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom as a Bhutan’s submission for this year. But I think it’s important for people to remember that we have just been officially accepted by the Academy Awards, it doesn’t mean that we have a nomination but it is the first step in getting a nomination,” said Pawo Choyning Dorji, the Writer/Director of the movie.

Pawo Choyning added that now after being officially accepted, the selection committee will review for a nomination. And he assumes that the obvious nomination would be in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.

“Getting an official entry into the Academy Awards, I think proves that something that I always have been saying and that is Bhutanese films have come a long way not only Lunana but several other films have been making news all around the world in international circuits and these films are made by Bhutanese in Bhutan and it is telling Bhutanese stories and the international world is taking notice of these films. So I think it’s very encouraging,” he added.

Shot on the location at more than 16,000 feet above the sea level, the movie was filmed with actual local children and villagers in one of the most remote villages in the country using solar-powered batteries and limited practical filmmaking resources. It took three months for the shooting of the movie to be complete.

The movie has won two awards at the Palm Springs International film festival in California; the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film and the Best of Fest Award. Similarly, it has won the Audience Choice Awards at the CinemAsia Film Festival in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It had a successful commercial release in Taiwan where a box office crossed NT$ 7 M (more than Nu 17.6 M). And the film also won three awards in Italy last week. Commercial releases in countries like Japan, South Korea, China, Switzerland, and France are expected soon.

Sonam Pem

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