Chhimi Dema

Film industry has incurred loss, as new film releases are postponed, film shootings are halted and theatres are unable to screen movies.

According to a Facebook page created to update on the Bhutanese film industry, 20 films were not released and 10 films were not screened in other dzongkhags. Three film productions were on halt due to the restrictions necessitated by the pandemic.

The industry is facing a loss of approximately Nu 90 million (M), according to film producer Dorji Wangchuk.

The loss for films yet to be released was estimated to be about Nu 60M, which includes cost of production amounting to Nu 3M for 20 films).

The loss incurred from not screening films in other dzongkhags apart from Thimphu is about Nu 30M for 30 films, including those that were not released.

Dorji Wangchuk said that in the current situation, most of the production houses find it difficult to sustain and cover monthly expenditure. “With the absence of a proper financing window for producing films, producers resort to private lending and mortgage properties to execute projects.”

He said that even if films cannot be screened in theatres, an opportunity to avail soft loans for those completed projects to repay the investors would benefit the film industry. “Investors pressurise the producers for repayment but we have no source of income without screening our films.”

Officiating president of the Film Association of Bhutan, Nidup Dorji, said the pandemic severely impacted the industry and that many were depending on their savings.

He said even if film shooting were allowed, it would be of no help without screening.

Nidup Dorji said that considering the uncertainties of time, it was important to explore other platforms for screening through cable TV, over-the-top services, or streaming media directly from the internet with reasonable sharing ratio.

The industry appealed to the government to allow screening films about five months ago but they have not received any response.

Meanwhile, as an assistant cameraman, Khandu Wangdi, said that he was unemployed for the last 10 months. “I have no source of income. My friends help me survive.”

A film producer, Kinzang Dema from Jamyang Pictures said that youth lost their employment because the film producers had to halt shooting.  “I ventured into film making expecting to give employment and entertain but the current situation hampered my expectations and income.”

She could not release her new film Jangkho and her first movie Dhunghey Parigam was not screened in other dzongkhags.

The industry was, however, engaged in short films in May last year through the Royal Office of Media (ROM).

Actors are engaging themselves in making advocacies and awareness videos in collaboration with the government agencies without payment.

An actor, Sherub Lhamo, said that even though there was no income, she was doing the little she could to help by making the awareness videos. “I am, also, spending quality time with my son.”