Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired the Bhutanese film Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, which is shortlisted for Best International Film at the 2022 Academy Awards. Written and directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji, the film tells the story of a young teacher sent to teach at the most remote mountain school in the world. Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom premiered at the BFI London Film Festival in 2019 and won the Audience Award at last year’s Palm Springs Film Festival. Samuel Goldwyn Films will announce release information at a later date.
In the film, a young teacher fulfilling a government post dreams of emigrating to Australia but instead finds himself assigned to a school in the most remote village in Northern Bhutan that does not have running water or electricity. The high altitude, a lack of amenities and the increasingly cold weather as the winter closes in, make him want to leave as soon as he arrives. The local children launch a charm offensive in a bid to convince him to stay before the truly harsh conditions of winter hit. Shot on location in one of the most remote human settlements in the world, the production had to rely entirely on solar batteries. Most of the actors are local yak herders who had never seen the world beyond their village, so they were making a movie without ever having watched one.
Pawo Choyning Dorji said, “With Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, I just wanted to share a story that was culturally, geographically and linguistically diverse from the rest of the world, but a story that touched upon the universal human value of trying to find where we belong. I think during this pandemic, when we suffer so much from sickness, separation and anxiety, celebrating the values that unite us together as humanity does so much to help us. I could not feel more confident ot be in the hands of Samuel Goldwyn Films after their brilliant release of last year’s Another Roundand The Man Who Sold His Skin.”
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom is the first Oscar entry for Bhutan in 23 years.