By Gyalsten K Dorji
In what should bring local films screenings to the gewog level, filming and screening equipment worth Nu 6.8 million or a little more than USD 110,000 was handed over to the Bhutan Film Association (BFA), yesterday.
The equipment includes 60 projectors, 60 Blu-Ray players, 60 amplifiers, and 120 speakers, purchased with a grant provided by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
“This grant from the government of Korea or KOICA to the film industry is given in good faith that BFA will be able to impart assistance to all the film industry people in Bhutan,” said information and communications minister, DN Dhungyel, who handed over the equipment. “It doesn’t confine itself to BFA members only,” Lyonpo added.
Lyonpo said that the equipment should be accessible to anyone in the film fraternity who need to use it. But he also said that the BFA and those using the equipment must use it “judiciously” or with care as it is expensive and would cost much to replace or be repaired.
Lyonpo thanked the Korean government for the grant assistance and on behalf of the government and local film industry assured that it would be used towards achieving whatever objectives the Korean government had in mind.
BFA president Mila Tobgay said that there are more than a thousand youth working in the film industry today but who are also on the verge of losing their jobs given a shortage of cinema halls and such professional quality equipment.
He added that 91 youth have been trained in screening movies which includes setting up the equipment and handling viewers. Two persons will be required to handle each projector, which means a total of 120 will be employed.
Mila Tobgay said that he is doubtful if more cinema halls can be constructed in the country in the next two-three years. He said consultations had found that no dzongkhags and thromdes own the required 21 decimals of land required to construct cinema halls. “We are also encouraging youth working with BFA to construct cinema halls if they have land,” he said.
This is not the first time the local film industry has received Korean assistance.
It began in 2010 following a meeting between His Majesty The King and the then Korean ambassador to Bhutan, Kim Joong-Kuen, in which Korean support was requested for the growth of the Bhutanese film industry.
In 2011, photography equipment worth USD 200,000 was provided, followed by a grants assistance of USD 180,000 in 2012.
Besides equipment, the Bhutanese film industry has been provided specialised trainings in Korea, which included cinematography, sound design, recording, and colour grading. Knowledge sharing on marketing strategy, script writing, pre-production, art of film, make-up, and production was also provided.
KOICA will be supporting the establishment of a Film Commission, this year, as stipulated in the National Film Policy of Bhutan.
Four Korean film festivals have also been organised in Thimphu by the information and media department and the BFA with financial support provided by KOICA.
According to press release, the festivals were expected to make viewers and filmmakers appreciate the diverse genres of films and the art of film making. “Such a festival also enables strengthening the friendly ties between countries and gives an insight into the culture and development of the country as well,” it is stated.