Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lengo - Review

From Kuenselonline

7 January 2005 - Most Bhutanese films, almost always, stir a recurrent anxiety that something is amiss in Bhutanese films. Despite the kindest of impulses, one can’t help but feel the void in narrative grip, character development and compelling dialogue that make a good movie. But as Bhutanese moviegoers become more discerning, there are ample hints, inspite of film maker’s pretending to ignore it, to make movies that viewers will warm up to. The novelty factor of a Bhutanese film is long worn out.

To many, therefore, the latest local film to be released in Thimphu comes as a delicious surprise. The film ‘Lengo’ (roughly meaning a Dumb Guy) radiates with abundant traces of hard work and a genuine attempt at good story telling. In many respects, it’s one of the most engaging local films made so far.
Directed by Chencho Dorji, ‘Lengo’ is an entertaining, albeit sad, tale of a seemingly unrequited love. The story revolves around a village ‘Lengo’ who is given to living in a fool’s paradise believing fervently that one of prettiest girls in the village is in love with him as he is with her. But his illusory happiness comes crashing down when the village’s new teacher enters his life and the life of the object of his love.
The film’s dialogue is strong, the screenplay and transitions are smooth and the camera work seem professional. The film revels in the raw beauty and the innocence of a rural life and manages to connect it to the story. Most of all the movie avoids the soapy and maudlin extravagance that such film subjects are prone to invite.
But it’s the performances and the character development that give the film its true appeal. Gyem Dori, in his best role since “Chepai Bu”, is convincing as the ‘Lengo’ who falls in love, encouraged, albeit complaisantly, by those around him with a girl who sees him only as a ‘Lengo’, and who faces the disillusion of all the good things he believes in.
As his object of longing and distraction, Karma Choden is a revelation. She manages to capture the rural-girl coyness and their somewhat natural attraction to all things modern, including men, without making it look cheap.
Rinchhen Namgay, who plays the village teacher, and Karma Dem, who plays ‘Lengo’ mother, are a treat to watch. Other supporting actors are also equally competent.
But the relationship between ‘Lengo’ and his girl begs more exploration, especially when she is being abandoned by the teacher; the film simplifies a complex rural culture.
Yet, ultimately it is difficult not to be moved, and feel at home, with the film.

By Kencho Wangdi

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My turn please!

By Kinga Dema
From Kuenselonline, 16 March, 2007

With 22 Bhutanese movies released last year, the highest since 2000, the 890-seater Lugar theatre in Thimphu is booked for local screenings upto January 2008.

Booked in advance: The Lugar theatre (File picture)

And till date only 10 movies had been screened. The movies had to be screened accordingly, serially, after the national film and TV review board issued certificates for screening of the movies. The duration of screening depended upon how hit the movie was, according to the vice president of motion picture association of Bhutan (MPAB), Mila Tobgyel.

“The development of the film industry depends upon the market, which are the theatres,” Mila Tobgyel told Kuensel.

Tshering Gyeltshen of Triple Gem Media and Infotainment said that while the producers had to wait for a long time for screening their movies in the capital, they were under a lot of pressure.

“Thimphu is the biggest make or break market so it is a big problem waiting for really long,” he said.

Screening of Bhutanese movies was equally benefiting for the theatre. According to the theatre manager, Karma, it was more profitable to hire out the theatre than screening their hired films.

The theatre charged Nu.5,000 as rental fee for evening shows and Nu.2,000 for matinee shows. The fee drops to Nu.4,000 after a week’s screening. However the only theatre in the capital has also become a problem for the viewers.

Dorji Wangmo, who never missed any of the Bhutanese movies, said that it was high time the theatre should be renovated. “Once I saw some children urinating in the theatre,” she said.
Another viewer said that apart from the theatre, the toilets were also very dirty. “The shops at the lugar theatre charge high prices,” she said.

The plan to renovate the theatre had been postponed due to some problems, according to the manager. “The renovation will take place after 2008,” he said.

While the Lugar theatre remained occupied with Bhutanese movies being screened continuously, some producers sought to screen their movies in the dzongkhags first, which was allowed after the certification from the review board. However in spite of the certificate from the board, the producers faced difficulties getting approval from the dzongkhag administration for screening their movies.

Another problem faced by the film industry was that with only five theatres in Bhutan, in the rest of the dzongkhags, the movies were screened mostly in schools.

A film producer said that screening movies in the schools was allowed only during the weekends. “So we have to wait for the next weekend for another screening which includes extra expenditure,” he said.

The owner of the theatre being constructed in Paro town, Karma Gangtey said that though his building was complete, he was waiting for financial assistance from a bank for the inside development of the theatre.

“The government cannot make commitment for allotment of land for the construction of theatres. However, land use provision would be made for each town at the time of preparing urban development plans,” said chief planning officer of ministry of works and human settlement (MoWHS), Meghraj Adhikari.

“If the landowners come up with the proposal then we look at the merit of the case and approve or reject,” he said.

From 1989 when the first Bhutanese film Gasa Lamai Singye was released till the year 2000, only twelve films were released and as of 2006, 69 movies were released, according to the records maintained by the MPAB.

This year five films were reviewed and three were under shooting.

Meanwhile, the 400-seater movie theatre being constructed at Changjiji would be completed in May this year.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Milerapa - the Movie

Shining Moon Productions
Milerapa (2006)
A film by Neten Chokling
Source: MilerapaMovie.Com
Visit: MilerapaMovieBlog

Milarepa depicts the humble beginnings of the man who was to become Tibet's greatest saint.
A true story based on centuries-old oral traditions, a youthful Milarepa is propelled into a world of sorrow and betrayal after his father's sudden death. Destitute and hopeless,he sets out to learn black magic - and exact revenge on his enemies - encountering magicians, demons, an enigmatic teacher and unexpected mystical power along the way. But it is in confrontation with the consequences of his anger that he learns the most.
Photographed in the stunning Lahaul-Spiti region of Northern India, Milarepa offers a provocative parallel to the cycle of violence and retribution we see consuming today's world.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Muti Thrishing: The Perfect Girl

Muti Thrishing: The Perfect Girl, 2005
Triple Gem Media and Infotaintment
Directed by : Pelden Dorji, Tshering Gyeltshen
Writer / Producer : Tshering Gyeltshen
Director of Photography / Editor : Pelden Dorji
Cast: Tshering Gyeltshen, Sonam Chuki

National Film Awards, Bhutan, 2005
Best film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Script

The Perfect Girl is a social and romantic drama that hinges on the relationship between its two lead protagonists –Rigsel Rigdhen and Dechhen Choden.

Rigsel, a newspaper reporter, is a never say die romantic who is waiting for his perfect love to come into his life. When it finally does, she turns out to be a prostitute.

The film portrays how Dechen became a prostitute, her trials in adjusting to a new life free from commercial sex and how society reacts towards her efforts.

Kinga Om, a health worker said the movie depicted the male-centric society, which, in some parts of rural Bhutan was a serious problem. The dialogues, she said were ‘edgy’ and made people think and face the fact.

“It is good to see a film which brings into open social issues such as drugs and prostitution,” said Sonam Phuntsho, a recent college graduate.

“Surprisingly it was very entertaining although it dealt with such serious issues.”

Some viewers found the two-hour-45-minute film a ‘bit too long’ with the plot dragging in some sections.

According to a lawyer, the movie exaggerates the prostitution issue in Bhutan. “It might give an impression to the outsiders that prostitution is very common in the country,” he said.

The producer of the movie, Tshering Gyeltshen, who is also the actor, writer and co-director told Kuensel that it was challenging to bring up such a sensitive issue on screen.

“As an artist and an entertainer, it is important to cater to people’s taste but at the same time I felt it a duty to bring up subjects that our society is confronting,” he said.

He added that about eight girls turned down the offer to play the main character once they knew that the role was that of a prostitute.

Of the total Nu. 2.8 million spent in making the film, about 35 percent was funded by UN system in Bhutan, Save the Children/USA Bhutan Programme office and SDC/Helvetas Programme Coordination office.
Shot in nine western, central and southern dzongkhags, the film took more than three months and a half to shoot.

copied and pasted from Kuenselonline

Monday, March 19, 2007

Films: is it the cut or the cutter that is not good?

Copied and pasted from Bhutan Times


Thimphu: The proverbial representation of a censor as one caricatured wielding large scissors with a wicked grin is proving just so for Bhutanese filmmakers who complain that the snips and cuts are stifling creativity.

The Film Development Board, comprising people with little or no technological knowledge about films and even less about existing reality, censor films on the whim and mood of the members. Producers say this can be confirmed by the fact that some scenes censored from one film are allowed in another.

“There are no written dos and don’ts and the rules seem to differ from film to film which makes us very confused,” said one filmmaker. “A film is not only about creativity but also about reality. If we are not allowed to present things as they are today, then we are not dealing with creativity but more with propaganda,” he said.

The censoring of scenes, according to producers, is proving quite expensive as they have to either re-shoot or edit out portions on which they have had to spend substantially. One producer recommends that the Film Development Board go through the screenplay and make necessary cuts to save time and money. Presently, only a synopsis is required for a film to be approved for production.

The Film Development Board members, however, say that they strictly follow the guidelines set by the Bhutan Information and Communication Authority (BICMA). Instead of being over zealous on the cuts, they maintain that they have been very lenient so far.

“We have never rejected a movie even if the movie hasn’t met the technical qualification,” said Phub Tshering, a member of the board, who feels the need to scrutinize the technical aspects of films as well. “We can’t allow a half baked cake to be eaten,” he said.

Board members say that despite their commenting on films as an audience, there has been no real improvement in the quality of films. “Our intentions are not to stop filmmakers from making a movie, we want to make the film industry in Bhutan grow, but in a positive way,” said Phub Tshering.

The board, recently reconstituted with new members from all walks of life, is currently working with BICMA to develop a new set of proper guidelines for movie previews. “After finalizing it, I am sure things will be much better,” said Dorji Wangchuk, another member of the board and the Vice President of the motion Picture Association of Bhutan.

Films are censored for scenes that depict anything negatively or could act as a negative influence on the youth.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Director's Profile

Karma Tshering

Born in Bumthang, Bhutan, Karma Tshering is the first Bhutanese student to take a diploma course in Production and Direction of Film and Television from AAFT. He was trained in AudiovisuaI Technology from Okinawa International Center in Japan in 2000.

He did six feature length films and several short documentary films in Bhutan.

He was awarded the best director award in 2000 (for Chepai Bu) during the first Bhutanese Film festival held in the capital city, Thimphu and best director in 2003 for the film "6 Boys", a film based on true events where six young boys were lost in the high Himalayas for 12 days without food and water.

He worked in Bollywood production "Badhai ho Badhai" as a trainee assiatant director.

He is currently working on a four year dance preservation project (CORE) in Bhutan (2005-2008), a 5 million dollar collaboration project between the Bhutanese government and Honolulu Academy of Arts, USA as the director for production. The project would also be producing a feature film on dance as its main theme financed by the project by the end of this year with major crews from the west.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Life As Cinema

Let us imagine that we are born in a cinema and all we know is this screen in front of us.

We do not recognize that we are looking at a film and that the events in the movie have no true existence. Everything we perceive on that screen–love, hatred, aggression, suspense, thrills–are in fact just the effect of a projection of light through film. But no one tells us this. We are sitting there watching, fixated on the film. If somebody tries to divert our attention, we say, “shut up!” We are so engrossed. Yet we are blind to the futility aspect of this projection.

But if somebody in the next seat suddenly tells us: “Look, this is just a film. This is not real. This is not really happening. This is really only a projection,” then there is a possibility we may realize that it is essenceless.

This does not mean that we get up and leave the cinema. We can now relax, and simply watch the intensity, the love affairs, the suspense of the crimes, or whatever is going on. If we are confident that this is merely a projection, we know we can rewind or fast-forward or leave whenever we like, or watch a double feature. Sometimes a sequence in the movie can overwhelm our emotions. A tragic part might hit our soft spot. We now know that this is not a real thing, not a big deal. Until we see that this projection has no inherent existence we will be carried away, seduced by all the glory and beauty of this world, by apparent success and failure. Which is not to say that once we see the truth of the projection, we run off to Nepal or India, and become a monk or nun. We may still keep our job, wear a tie and a suit, and still go with a briefcase to our office every day. But somewhere inside us we know that this is essenceless.

Now, it could happen that we don’t hear the person in the next seat whispering, “Hey, this is just a film,” because we are too engrossed. Maybe there is a big car crash in the movie, or loud music, so we do not hear the message. Or we might hear the whisper but our ego interprets this information so that we remain confused, believing something in the movie is true. What does that mean? That means we lack merit. Without merit, we are like an illiterate beggar who wins a multi-million dollar lottery but does not know what to do with such wealth and loses it immediately.

If we have the merit to hear the whisper, then as Buddhists we have different options. In Theravada and Hinayana Buddhism we leave the movie hall, or close our eyes, so we are not carried away by the movie. We put an end to our suffering in this way. In the Mahayana, we understand that the movie is not real, that it is a projection and empty, and we do not suffer. We don’t stop watching the movie, but we see it has no inherent existence. Moreover, we are concerned about the others in the cinema. Finally, in the Vajrayana, we know it is just a movie, we are not fooled, and we enjoy the show. The more emotion the movie evokes in us, the more we appreciate the brilliance of the production, and the more we share our insights with our fellow viewers.

People ask: “What are the similarities between teaching and directing?” I can say there is a big difference and yet it can be very similar. It all depends on the motivation. I could be teaching dharma purely for worldly gain and in that case I might as well ride in a limousine half-doped like some directors do. But the question still comes up: “You are a Buddhist lama, why do you make film?” This question is a bit puzzling. It indicates to me that from certain standpoints this work is viewed as almost sacrilegious, like I am breaking some kind of holy rule. At the same time, I understand. People automatically associate film with money, sex and violence because there are so many such films coming out of Hollywood and Bollywood.

But if only they had access to films by the likes of Ozu, Satyajit Ray, Antonioni, people would understand that filmmaking doesn’t have to be like that. In fact it is a tool. Film is a medium and Buddhism is a science. You can be a scientist and you can be a filmmaker, a salesperson or a politician at the same time

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Golder Cup - Trailer

Golden Cup - The Legacy
Director: Tshering Wangyal
Production: Golden Pictures
Genre: Drama
Format: Digital Video, color,
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Running Time: 130 minutes

The Golden Cup is a token of immense love given to Choden (Rinzin Choden) by Yurung (Chencho Dorji) on his death bed. It is a magical talisman of good fortune which if neglected releases an unimaginable curse. Dolkar (Tshering Choden) the daughter of Yurung and Choden steals the coins out of the Cup and releases the curse. Her vanity destroys the good powers that dwell within the Golden Cup and the desire for momentary finery, as always, is the cause of evil.