Bhutanese film ”Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” gets first ever nomination at the Oscars

Filmed in one of the remotest corners in one of the world’s most inaccessible countries, “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom”, is the first Bhutanese film ever nominated for an Academy Award.

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

Video Credits: Movieclips Indie

At an altitude of 3,400 metres (11,150 feet), Lunana, where it was shot on location, is home to around 50 people and lies up to 10 days’ trek from the nearest motorable road.

Winters are long and harsh, and solar power is the only electricity source, creating major logistical challenges.

Equipment and supplies for the film were carried in by 75 mules, while more than 70 helicopter trips transported the cast and crew.

The movie explores a society in transition through Ugyen, a discontent teacher with dreams of making it big as a singer in Australia, but who is transferred to Lunana, a village of yak herders and fungus collectors.

His initial reaction to Lunana is overwhelmingly negative, but the locals — real-life villagers playing themselves — slowly spark a change of heart.

The script is laced with Bhutanese mysticism and environmental messages, while the action takes place against a natural backdrop of vast vistas and snow-capped peaks.

“It is a story about yak songs, it is a story about the value of yak dung,” said first-time director Pawo Choyning Dorji.

“It touches upon this universal human story, about seeking what you want, where you belong, seeking happiness.

“That is something that is really needed in our world,” he told AFP.

“With the pandemic we have become a society where we want to separate, we want to build boundaries, we want to build walls, we want to highlight what makes us different, what makes us better or they worse than us.

“I wanted to show a simple story where all of us could find and celebrate this universal human quality.”

In January the film was selected as one of five nominees for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars taking place next month.

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