Rolling off its Oscar nomination in the international feature category, Pawo Choyning Dorji’s Bhutanese feature debut “Lunana: A Yak in The Classroom” has been sold by Films Boutique in further territories.
Bhutan’s first Oscar entry in 23 years, “Lunana: A Yak in The Classroom” follows a young teacher who dreams of emigrating to Australia to become a singer and instead finds himself assigned to a school in the most remote village in Northern Bhutan, where he unexpectedly bonds with local children and finds happiness.
Berlin-based company Films Boutique has sold the film into leading distributors in Spain (A Contracorriente), Benelux (September Films) and Portugal (Alambique).
The company has already sold the movie in most major markets, including North America with Samuel Goldwyn Films.
The movie premiered at the BFI London Film Festival in 2019 and won the audience award at last year’s Palm Springs Film Festival. The critically acclaimed film is the second Oscar entry from Bhutan, a landlocked country in South Asia. It was shot on location in one of the most remote human settlements in the world and the production had to rely entirely on solar batteries. Most of the actors are local yak herders who have never seen the world beyond their village.
On top of writing and directing, Dorji also produced “Lunana: A Yak in The Classroom” with Steven Xiang, Stephane Lai and Jia Honglin. The movie had previously been submitted for 2021’s Oscar race by the Bhutanese government’s Ministry of Information and Communications but the entry was considered ineligible by the Academy because Bhutan did not have a proper official committee and hasn’t submitted a film in 23 years.
Reacting to the Oscar nod, Dorji told Variety that the nomination was a “historic first for Bhutan, a small but very special country with so much to wisdom and compassion to share with the rest of the world.”
“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,” said Dorji, noting that he hoped the film will “continue to touch peoples’ hearts, especially during these difficult times.”
Films Boutique’s Berlinale slate includes “Talking About the Weather” by German filmmaker Annika Pinske, and Max Walker-Silverman’s Sundance film “A Love Song.”