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LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM

Pawo Choyning Dorji | 2021 | 110 MINS
Bhutan/China | Subtitles
In this feel-good comedy drama, an aspiring singer living with his grandmother in the capital of Bhutan dreams of getting a visa to move to Australia.

In Detail

A young teacher in modern Bhutan, Ugyen, shirks his duties while planning to go to Australia to become a singer. As a reprimand, his superiors send him to the most remote school in the world, a glacial Himalayan village called Lunana, to complete his service.

He finds himself exiled from his Westernized comforts after an arduous 8-day trek just to get there. There he finds no electricity, no textbooks, not even a blackboard. Though poor, the villagers extend a warm welcome to their new teacher, but he faces the daunting task of teaching the village children without any supplies. He wants to quit and go home, but he begins to learn of the hardship in the lives of the beautiful children he teaches, and begins to be transformed through the amazing spiritual strength of the villagers. Donji’s screenplay finds an ideal balance of gentle humour and life-affirming drama.

Opening the doors to a land and people most Westerners know little about, the director crafts a crowd-pleaser in stunning, mostly unseen locations whose charms weather even its most idealistically patriotism. It is done in a soulful way with no cloying or artificial drama injected into the mix, and the very lack of pretentiousness is its charm. The 2022 Oscar Nominee for Best International Feature Film from Bhutan.

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