Bhutan’s first Oscar-nominated film, “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” is the second and third Bhutanese film to be submitted to the Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film. The film is currently playing at the Laemmle Royal through February 17.
Submission to the Academy Awards requires an officially recognized committee. When Bhutan’s Ministry of Information and Communications submitted this film to the Academy, it was informed that because Bhutan did not have such a committee, the film was immediately disqualified. The last time Bhutan had submitted a film was in 1999. That film, “The Cup” (Phörpa), was directed by Khyentse Norbu. Norbu’s film premiered at the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes.
Norbu’s film didn’t make the final cut for an Oscar nomination, but Norbu is now part the newly formed Committee for Selection of Films for International Awards (CSFIA) that helped get director Pawo Choyning Dorji‘s film submitted and nominated to the Academy Awards.
In a statement from his publicists, Dorji wrote, “Today I am so very honored and proud, not as the filmmaker of an Oscar-nominated film but as a Bhutanese. The nomination of Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom for Best International Feature Film is a historic first for Bhutan, a small but very special country with so much wisdom and compassion to share with the rest of the world. I am so grateful to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and all the members of the Academy for giving us this opportunity and platform to share ourselves with the world.“
The film is about a young man who is sent to northern Bhutan for his final year of training as a teacher. His new post in Lunana is a seven-day walk from the nearest drop off point. The 109-minute film was made using cameras operating on solar-powered batteries.
Dorji, who also wrote the film, noted, “The improbable journey of this little film from the glaciers of the Himalayas to the Oscars is a celebration of all the possibilities in art and creativity. We hope our film will continue to touch peoples’ hearts as we continue to seek for the essential human values in life, especially during these difficult times.”
Now playing at the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles, “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” will be available on digital and cable on-demand beginning Friday, February 11.
The nominations for the 94th Academy Awards ceremony were announced on 8 February 2022. The ceremony will take place that Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on 27 March 2022.