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Screenplay: Pawo Choyning Dorji
Cinematography: Jigme Tenzing
Music: Hu Shuai
Cast: Sherab Dorji (Ugyen Dorji), Ugyen Norbu Lhendup (Michen), Kelden Lhamo Gurung (Saldon), Pem Zam (Pem Zam), Sangay Lham (Kencho), Chimi Dem (Pema)
Producent: Dangphu Dingphu: a 3 pigs production
The Bhutan nominee for the 2022 Academy Award for Best International Feature Film, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom is a visually elaborate meditation on a sense of purpose and happiness found in the least expected places.
Ugyen is a disillusioned schoolteacher and aspiring musician in Bhutan’s capital city, Thimphu. With one year left under his current teaching contract, he is eager to cut out for Australia in pursuit of a singing career when he is abruptly reassigned to the village of Lunana, and the most remote school in the country. With no electricity let alone a blackboard to work with, Ugyen is nonetheless presented with the chance for a new connection to music, and an unexpected sense of purpose within the community’s embrace.
I wanted to explore the question: “Is Bhutan really the happiest place in the world?” But rather than providing one answer, I put across this notion that happiness is not what we ultimately seek in life, but it’s the journey we go through to search for what we think we are seeking.
Pawo Choyning Dorji
Born in 1983 in Darjeeling, India. After studying in the United States, he first pursued a career in photography. Returning to India, Dorji met filmmaker Khyentse Norbu and worked with him as director's assistant and producer. His feature-length debut, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.