Chhimi Dema 

Pawo Choyning Dorji, 39, a filmmaker from Bumthang becomes the youngest Bhutanese to receive the Druk Thuksey (Heart Son of the Thunder Dragon) Medal from His Majesty The King.

His Majesty The King awarded the medal in recognition of Pawo Choyning Dorji’s services to the nation through his outstanding contribution to the Bhutanese film industry.

Pawo’s film Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom is the first Bhutanese film to get an Academy Awards (Oscar) nomination in 2022. The film was released commercially in 53 countries in 27 languages.

Pawo said that receiving the medal from His Majesty The King was the biggest honour a Bhutanese can receive.  “I am honoured to be receiving it from His Majesty The King on the National Day.”

He said that it is important to reflect on the bigger picture of the award. “I believe that this is not an award to an individual but an award for who that individual represents.”

The filmmaker worked with Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche on films such as Vara: A Blessing, and Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait before directing Lunana.

He graduated with a degree in government and international relations from Lawrence University in the United States.

Pawo said that, as the youngest Bhutanese to receive the honour, it was a message from His Majesty The King to the youth of Bhutan on the importance of their responsibility for the country.

He said, “I am the first filmmaker to be getting the award. This is another message to the storytellers or the creative people of Bhutan that we have an important responsibility in holding our culture and tradition.”

He recently finished shooting a film in Bhutan called, Four Days to Full Moon.

The film, he said, is about the transition Bhutan went through with the introduction of television and the internet. It is also about how Bhutan is the only country in the world where democracy was ushered in without war.

“All that transition is a beautiful story to tell. Not only to share with the world but our youth to know what special circumstances our country went through. The film celebrates the innocence of Bhutanese culture,” Pawo said.