In the amusing Bhutanese comedic drama Lunana, the reliable old narrative of a city teacher assigned to a school in the countryside gets a fresh coat of paint. This big-hearted audience-pleaser traces a bright breakthrough for writer-director Pawo Choyning Dorji. Gloriously filmed in stupendously unique places around the most faraway school on Earth and beautifully performed by a cast made up almost entirely of first-time performers. Lunana, Bhutan’s official submission in this year’s Oscar foreign feature race, has won audience honors at several festivals, namely Palm Springs and Cairo.
Lunana, with her world premiere in London in 2019, had to retreat from the international Oscar category for 2020 due to a problem in the formal nomination procedure. It’s only fair and proper to approve this charming film and become Bhutan’s first presentation since Khyentse Norbu’s 1999 success The Cup placed the Himalayan kingdom on the globe. The film looks to be on track to be one of Bhutan’s most extensively distributed films.
Lunana: What Is The Story About?
Doji’s story begins with the commonly believed belief that Bhutan is the happiest country. Can these youngsters and young adults; who are more involved in the world and open to outside influences than ever before; be as joyful as the rest of the planet believes they should be? If you ask Ugyen Dorji (Sherhab Dorji) if he is happy, he will tell you that he is not. Ugyen laments his employment decision and would prefer to abandon his nagging grandmother; to pursue his ambition of being a singer in Australia. When Ugyen leaves for Lunana; a tiny community in the foothills of the Himalayas that one can only reach by foot after a week-long walk; that day appears even further away.
It’s no surprise that Ugyen’s homecoming postpones for a week to allow him to win over his bright-eyed classmates. At these high altitudes, yak dung is the primary fuel source for most of the year. Also, Saldon gave Ugyen the yak in his classroom as a present to have a ready source of fuel at all moments. Ugyen eventually sheds his apathy; collects his yak dung; and gradually embraces a simpler lifestyle in a location where people highly prize learning. Instructors are highly revered, despite what he may have previously believed of country residents.
The screenplay by Donji in Lunana strikes the perfect combination of gentle comedy and life-affirming drama. The film’s teachings about the pursuit of pleasure and loving the people, things, and places surrounding you never seem pompous or didactic. The film’s comedic scenarios never outstay their welcome. Donji has also crafted a compulsively entertaining and inspiring product. All thanks to the stunning images of top cinematographer Jigme Tenzing.