Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The year in Bhutanese cinema

Source: Bhutan Observer

From releasing Sungchop Magmi, which took six years in the making, to Return of Ata Khawjay to receiving a gold medal from His Majesty, 2009 was an exciting year for the burgeoning Bhutanese movie industry.

In total, 18 films were produced, out of which only five made it to the theatres in Thimphu. Karma Entertainment’s Sem da Sem and Dechen Pem’s Sem ge Damtshe were among the commercially successful films of the year.

Sem da Sem also became the Bhutanese film to be screened at the Palace and was reportedly watched and appreciated by His Majesty.

Sem ge Jurwa was well received by the review board as it carried a lot of social messages.

Far away girl, produced by a new team, was also well received. O ther films like Chorten Kora, which is based on nomadic lifestyle, City of Dreams, which dwells on the urban lifestyle, 4 Friends, a film by a woman director, Karma Deki, were also released last year.

The last film to be released was Sergi Zhongm, which centres on livestock and rural-urban migration. While all the films were produced within the range of Nu 1.5 to Nu 2 million on average, the producer of Return of Ata Khawjay claims to have spent more than Nu 2 million.

Actor Chencho Dorji dominated as the male protagonist in most of the films. The 27-year-old actor, who acted in five films last year, says he gave his best in every film. I n 2008, a number of female actors had been introduced but in 2009, senior female actors stole the limelight.

Tshering Wangyel directed four films, the maximum number in the year. The year also saw the making of a big budget film by NT Sound and Vision starring the Bhutanese Bollywood actor, Kelley Dorji.


According to Motion Picture Association of Bhutan (MPAB), the Bhutanese cinema’s greatest achievement in the past year was dominating the local market not only in Thimphu, but also in the southern region. Earlier, Bollywood films had dominated local theatres in the south.

The gold medal awarded to the association by His Majesty was another achievement. “Getting recognition from the highest level was indeed an achievement,” said Sherub Gyeltshen, the general secretary of MPAB.


The shortage of theatres continues to ail the industry. To ease the crunch, MPAB started a system whereby a film cannot be screened for The year in Bhutanese cinema more than 22 days.

However, with the upcoming theatres in Chubachu and twin theatre in Olakha in Thimphu, the problem is expected to be addressed.

The film industry is also lacking training. Even after 10 years of establishment, it hardly gets human resource development training from the government.

However, the concern is expected to be addressed because the cabinetassured the industry that the government would supportit in various ways.Meanwhile, the MPAB is yet to gain industry status.

But it is positive about the industry’s future. “We expect a better paved way now on,” said Sherub Gyeltshen.

By Tandin Pem

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