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The Crack Magazine


Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

Director: Pawo Choyning Dorji

Stars: Sherab Dorji, Ugyen Norbu Lhendup, Kelden Lhamo Gurung, Pem Zam

Shades of 'Doc Hollywood' & 'Local Hero' in this charming Bhutanese drama from writer-director Pawo Choyning Dorji, as a city slicker learns life lessons in a remote mountainous Himalayan village. Ugyen (Dorji) is a teacher who lives with his grandma in the capital city of Thimphu. His plans to move to Australia in an attempt to launch himself as a singer after his five-year government service are put on hold when his boss despatches him to Lunana, a remote village with a population of 56 that takes an eight-day trek to reach. For the first couple of days of the trek, Ugyen, headphones glued to head, all but ignores his kindly yak herder guides, until, that is, he loses the signal and has no choice but to converse. The ice thaws a little more after a campfire singalong. On his arrival, Ugyen is horrified to find there’s no Wi-Fi access, and only a sporadic supply of electricity. As he spends more time with his charming pupils, however, and a local woman Saldon (Gurung) who teaches him traditional tunes, Ugyen begins to fall for his new home. There are no surprises here, but the pacing is sprightly and cinematographer Jigme T. Tenzing’s rendering of the Himalayan highlands, captured via cameras utilising solar powered batteries, is stunning. Dorji’s Ugyen is an appealingly flawed protagonist and the children are adorable. Yak stans won’t be disappointed either.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm