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.

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