Film in the land of the Thunder Dragon: A Developing National Cinema in Bhutan

Professor M.E. Kirk
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Unlike the film industries of most emerging nations, the national cinema of the Kingdom of Bhutan is in its relative infancy. Cautious to avoid corruption of its conservative Buddhist culture by Western influences, this Himalayan kingdom has only in recent years begun to develop a national cinema in which the Bhutanese culture is being committed to the cinema. Working within the strictures of cultural standards, economic, and technical limitations, filmmakers in Bhutan are producing characteristically native feature films that reflect the character of this land. This paper, based upon recent field research, will examine how Bhutanese cinema is developing under the efforts of artists, entrepreneurs, and religious leaders, even to the point where films from this mountainous land are attracting international attention and acclaim.

Keywords: Cinema, Film, Bhutan, Khyentse Norbu, Dzongkha, Travellers and Magicians
Stream: Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication, Ethnicity, Difference, Identity
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Film in the land of the Thunder Dragon

Professor M.E. Kirk

Associate Professor of Mass Media, Department of Mass Media and Communication, Baker University

In adition to his academic duties, Kirk has his own production company - Still Pool Productions which produces video projects and digital films which are based upon spirit-based messages. In January, he will begin principle photography on "In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts" which is described as a Buddhist ghost story. Among the cinema classes Professor Kirk teaches is a course on non-western cinema, an off-shoot of his interest in Asian film. In 2004 Kirk travelled to the Himalaya as part of a sabbatical project, where he shoot footage for a short documentary about Bhutan. The film is currently in post-production.

Ref: H06P0222