Film: The Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) issued a clarification yesterday that Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche’s fourth feature film Hema Hema; Sing Me a Song While I Wait is not barred from screening but is being reviewed.

According to BICMA, the film has been reviewed by the National Films Review Board (NFRB) and recommended that the film be further reviewed by the Department of Culture (DoC) with the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs.

The NFRB is an independent board instituted by BICMA with members from different stakeholders. BICMA reviewed the film on December 10 and referred it to DoC the next day.

A producer of the film, Pawo Chonying Dorji, said that after a lengthy discussion, the review committee and DoC officials thought that the film had certain cultural issues, specifically the use of masks which was deemed inappropriate.

“Obviously I’m disappointed,” said Pawo Chonying Dorji, adding that BICMA actually read the script a year ago before making of the film began. “[We] feel that we have not used masks inappropriately.”

Pawo Chonying Dorji said: “Rinpoche wrote the script and directed the movie. For us, Rinpoche has always been a champion in Bhutanese culture and Bhutanese spirituality. I don’t think he would knowingly use sacred objects like masks inappropriately. Of course, having discussed the issue with Rinpoche, we are committed in letting the officials do their jobs and have told them that we shall go with whatever they decide on this issue.”

The film, Pawo Chonying Dorji said has been a success on the international stage. “I personally feel that the movie has been a great cultural and spiritual representation of the country. It has travelled to some of the most prestigious film festivals and has represented Bhutan in a positive way. We hope we can finally screen it at home.”

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, speaking to journalists yesterday said that the producers of the film had applied for a permit to make the film and BICMA had given permission, adding that it appears that BICMA requires a review of film before screening but the producers had already taken the movie outside Bhutan.

“The NFRB viewed the film and thought that certain parts of the movie may be inappropriate, which includes the use of traditional masks and several scenes in the movie. BICMA sent the movie to be reviewed by DoC and they have yet to review it. This is where it stands right now,” Lyonchoen said. “There are rules and implementation of these rules are important. We must allow the system to do its job and then everybody will know the due procedures and process.”

Thinley Zangmo