Bhutanese director-writer Pawo Choyning Dorji, whose film ‘The Monk and The Gun’ is the official submission for the Oscars from Bhutan, has said that the film is a celebration of innocence.
Pawo, who recently attended the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, also mentioned that the film is a reflection of the Bhutanese culture which suddenly opened up overnight to the rest of the world, which resulted in the western nations implying that innocence is ignorance but the film makes a clear demarcation between innocence and ignorance.
The director said: “‘The Monk and The Gun’ is a celebration of the quality of innocence. A lot of the audiences when viewing the film get the feeling that it is a story of innocence which is synonymous with Bhutanese culture. It is a very foundational quality of our tradition and culture. When we as a country and as a culture opened up to the outside world overnight, television, democracy, internet, all came at the same time.”
He continued: “As we embraced that, we are suddenly told by the modern world, by the western world that being innocent is being ignorant. With this film I wanted to show that there is a difference between innocence and ignorance.”
Sharing his thoughts on what global audiences are connecting with the most with the film, Pawo said: “When I speak with people about the films I make, what I always say is that I can take something that is very exotic, like Bhutanese stories, and I can tell it with the experience that I’ve had growing up in different cultures and share the story through a medium through which it becomes relatable to the rest of the world. For example, ‘The Monk and The Gun’, it is very interesting because I have travelled with this film. American audiences seem to connect with the political aspects of the story.”
“When the film goes to a country like Korea, they relate to the cultural aspect of the story. When it comes to India, you could see that Indians connect with the film in their own way. The spiritual aspect maybe, with the innocence aspect of it. When the film screened in Bhutan, a lot of the audience were crying because it was a reminder for them of what we went through and they could relate to the impact on change on society, on family, on how the king willingly gave up his power. A lot of people got very emotional and that’s the magic of cinema, you know. It can connect with the audiences in such different ways,” he added.