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Bhutan’s ‘uplifting’ first Oscar-nominated feature film screens at Watershed

Film fans in and around Bristol are about to get their first chance to see the feel-good feature from the land of Gross National Happiness – Bhutan – that’s both an Oscars® history-maker and a triumph of climate-friendly filmmaking.

LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji is the first ever film from Bhutan to win an Academy Award® nomination, alongside acclaim by audiences and critics at scores of international festivals.

It opens at Watershed in central Bristol on March 10, telling the story of a discontented city-based teacher (Sherab Dorji) sent against his will to work in the world’s most remote school. To book, click here.

The setting is the real Bhutanese village of Lunana, located 3,600m high amid epically scenic Himalayan glaciers and populated both in fact and fiction by a yak herding community lacking almost all of the amenities/necessities urban dwellers take for granted, including a blackboard. But once there, the enthusiasm of his young pupils and the warmth of the villagers slowly ease the teacher’s dismay and make him think afresh about what it means to be happy and enjoy a sense of belonging.

Lunana: A Yak In the Classroom (Peccadillo Pictures)

As well as achieving critical and audience success, the film also scores well for its low environmental impact. Like the teacher, the crew undertook an eight-day trek to reach the village and then relied entirely on what could be carried on 64 mules and solar powered kit. It also involved many of the villagers in the production including casting nine-year-old Pem Zam as one of its star characters.

LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM is written and directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji and is being distributed to cinemas across the UK and Ireland from March 10 by Peccadillo Pictures.