Yangyel Lhaden  

A one-minute Bhutanese film, “Snow Lion and The Glaciologist”, has been selected as one of the top 50 films from 35 countries for the Mobile Film Festival’s awards ceremony on World Climate Day in Paris on December 8.

The international film festival is committed to climate issues, and the theme of the 17th edition is “Making Peace With Nature,” launched in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme.

In the film, Director Arun Bhattarai portrays a glaciologist, Phuntsho Tshering, with the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) who goes on foot to inspect the glaciers every year, and what it takes for a small country like ours to protect our community against climate change.

Arun Bhattarai said that he was awed seeing how challenging it was to monitor glaciers with limited infrastructure in our country, unlike developed countries where experts use roads or helicopters to monitor glaciers. “This inspired me to document the video and it concerned me when Phuntsho Tshering said glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) are a ticking time bomb.”

In a poetic narration, Arun Bhattarai portrays the dilemmas his protagonist, Phuntsho Tshering, faces: a tussle between his heart and head, his beliefs and education. The cultural belief that mountains, abodes of wrathful deities, should not be touched or else they will unleash misery and destruction bothers Phuntsho Tshering. On the other hand, carrying out empirical studies on the glaciers is his job.

Locals residing near the mountains have warned him against making his annual visit to the mountain to take the measurements. They fear something untoward will occur.

“Snow Lion and the Glaciologist” is an excerpt from a 20-minute short film Arun Bhattarai is working on with Phuntsho Tshering titled “Mountain Man”.

He said that he participated in the film festival with the motive to shed light on NCHM officials, who monitor glaciers every year, and their challenges so that they can get urgently needed international support.

The 50 films selected for the MFF awards can be found on the MFF’s website and social media platforms.

The MFF will award nine prizes worth USD 30,000 in grants in nine categories. Between November 2 and November 30, the public can participate in the audience award by voting online for their favourite film through SensCritique.

SensCritique is only available in French; however, viewers can click on the stars that display below the film.

Edited by Tshering Palden