Star gazing

Yesterday, our government organized the 8th Film Festival Awards. Our government’s sponsorship of the celebrations is indicative of their support for the movie industry. This is good.

Our movie industry has played an important role in promoting our national language and culture, in generating employment and in providing countless hours of entertainment. I thank them and congratulate them for continuing to take Bhutanese cinema to new heights.

Congratulations to the winners of the 8th film festival awards – you are our stars.

(Till last year the film festival awards were organized through private sponsorship, mainly by the Zimdra Group.)

A Girl with AIDS

My blogging efforts are paying off – yesterday I was invited to a private screening of “A Girl with a Red Sky”, a film about HIV/AIDS.

The film is short. But it is powerful. Tashi Gyeltshen, the film’s writer and director, presents a series of matter-of-fact conversations between the protagonist, a nine-year old girl dying of AIDS, and Death who has come to get her.

The film highlights the horrors of HIV/AIDS from a very different perspective – it shows Death shocked by the ruthlessness of the dreaded disease.

“A Girl with a Red Sky” was funded by UNICEF and YDF, and has reportedly already caught the attention of international HIV/AIDS activists. I am not surprised.

Nor will I be surprised if the film wins some international awards. Three Bhutanese directors have already shown the way: Dorji Wangchuk (for School among Glaciers, and Long Walk to Education), Kesang Chuki Dorji (for Doma Sellers) and Ugyen Wangdi (for Price of a Letter)

Well done, Tashi, and good luck.

(Of the 19 new HIV/AIDS cases detected in our country last year, 2 were infants.)

Sunday movie

I saw a movie on Sunday.

Drinchen (gratitude) is a love story that contrasts life in rural and urban Bhutan. And it draws attention to growing conflict between traditional and modern values. It is directed by Kezang P. Jigme, and stars Lhaki Dema (Best Actress 2003 for Chepai Bhu), Tshering Phuntsho and Kezang Tobden.

Drinchen is playing in Trowa, Changjiji. You should see it for three reasons.

One, you’ll enjoy the movie. The storyline is good. It has serious messages, but it is light. It’s enjoyable.

Two, you’ll support the local film industry. Bhutan makes about 18 feature films on average each year. The average film project costs about Nu 2 million and employs about 50 people. In our context, that’s serious circulation of money. And that is very good for our economy.

Three, you’ll support Trowa Theatre. The movie hall, which opened in July this year, has 440 seats, state-of-the-art sound system, air conditioning, backup power generator and a good cafeteria. Good money has obviously been invested to build infrastructure that Thimphu needs. Now Thimphu needs to use it. On both the occasions I visited, there were hardly 100 viewers each.

So go out once in a while. Go see a movie. It’s good for our economy.