… from local shows to international awards, the Tiger raised the bar for the industry

Jigmi Wangdi

Water Male Tiger Year: Entertainment– The Year of the Tiger saw historic events in the entertainment sector. From locally-produced films being nominated for the Oscars to the grand musical mega show in Phuentsholing. It was a colourful year filled with awards and international recognition for Bhutan.

Early last year, when the country was still under frequent lockdowns owing to the Omicron variant of Covid-19, a Bhutanese film, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom was nominated for the Academy Awards also known as the Oscars, and created conversations and lifted spirits among the Bhutanese community. It was the first time a Bhutanese film was nominated for such a prestigious award. The director, Pawo Choyning Dorji, would later receive the Druk Thuksey award from His Majesty as a sign of recognition and his contribution to Bhutan’s film industry.

When it comes to awards and international recognition, Samuh, the first ever over-the-top (OTT) platform for locally-produced films, bagged a number of wins last year. A popular feature film produced by Samuh called Gangnam Girls won the Best Debut Feature Film Award at the 24th UK Asian Film Festival 2022 in London.

Following this, the CEO of Samuh, Nyema Zam won the business Rise Awards 2022. She won the award from a list of seven finalists in the category ‘Females leading the Business Operation in the Media, Broadcast, and Technology Sector’. The award recognised Nyema Zam for her leadership in the broadcast industry. The Rise Awards celebrates the outstanding talents and achievements of women leaders.

On December 7, following Nyema Zam’s win, Samuh was awarded ‘The Best Initiative to grow Local Industry Awards’ at the Makers and Shakers Awards 2022. According to a press release from Samuh, the award recognises the initiatives taken by an organisation that benefits the creative community, expanding the local talent and skill pool of the creative screen industries.

The Miss Bhutan pageant returned after a 12 years hiatus. There were 25 contestants who participated in the pageant. Tashi Choden from Wangdue dzongkhag won the national contest. She represented Bhutan in the Miss Universe pageant for the first time ever.

Another international recognition for Bhutan came when Ryhaan Giri auditioned for The Voice of Nepal season four. Right from the start, Ryhaan won the hearts of Nepalese and Bhutanese people alike. His notion of performing barefoot as a symbol of respect to the stage was well-received by the judges and fans. Although he could not win, Ryhaan reached the top six. He will soon be releasing an album named Bheejyo Sansaar.

Locally, the biggest musical event of last year was undoubtedly the five-day mega show in Phuentsholing. The event was the first of its kind in Bhutan and had multiple talents and locally-famed artists perform at the show.

Since the pandemic, last year also saw a number of popular singing competitions return. Some singing shows were The Voice of Bhutan, Palden Drukpa, Druk Super Star, and Talents of Bhutan, among others. Such platforms offer an opportunity for young singing enthusiasts to showcase their talent and passion for singing.

The 21st and 22nd Bhutan National Film Awards were also held last year. The award aimed to give recognition to young and old talents of the Bhutanese film industry. A total of 10 actors, five male, and five female, were nominated for Best Actor. Five films were nominated for Best Film.

Finally, a major event for 2022 was the 115th National Day. It was the first time since the pandemic that the country celebrated National Day. There were numerous build-up programmes for the Day. However, it was the show at Changlimithang on December 17 that was well received by the nation. It was the first time that a modern twist to traditional performances where young artists performed to entertain the crowd.