Karma Lhatrul Rinpoche, director of the feature film, Tshorwa – The Inner Call, has written to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate Bhutan Film Association’s (BFA) executives and board directors for probable corruption associated with the recently concluded 16th Bhutan National Film Awards.

Karma Lhatrul Rinpoche alleged that the BFA board had secretly changed the criteria for the awards in favour of a selected few with the introduction of the new Prime Minister’s Awards this year.

In a complaint letter to the ACC, the director said that films, which were directed and produced by some of the board members of the association, were recognised as the best films on the night of the awards.

Serga Mathang and Hum Chewi Zamling, films that bagged the best and first runners up in the best film category were the films produced and directed by BAF board directors.

The director said that the vice president of BAF and the winner of best director award was the one who proposed and initiated the change in the criteria according to the minutes of the board meeting held on January 21.

After winning six awards, which included four major awards from seven, Tshorwa- The Inner Call was not even nominated for the best director award.

The changed criteria adversely affected the chances of Tshorwa-The Inner Call for the best film, said Karma Lhatrul Rinpoche. “If BAF had not changed the criteria, the film was an automatic winner of either best director or best film, or both by the way of it winning major categories in the awards and by the way of the existing BAF guidelines, which says that whichever film wins at least four major categories is sure in for the best film.”

BAF in a press release stated that the association proposed to the government to institute Best Film – Film of Excellence Awards to recognise the films of excellence.

On the January 13 the BAF board re-evaluated the guidelines for the Best Film – Film of Excellence Awards and set the selection criteria. BFA then conducted a meeting on January 16 where 20 producers of the films participated in an award function that endorsed the selection criteria for the new best film, states the press release.

However, Karma Lhatrul Rinpoche said that there was no formal signing and endorsement of any kind of agreement during the meeting on January 16. “For what I know, I had just signed for my attendance during the meeting and it wasn’t any sort of agreement,” he said.

Another director, Rigzang, who was involved in the cinematography of three films competing in the 16th Bhutan National Film Awards, said that since they have already signed a guideline with the association previously, the board’s decision to implement a new criteria without prior consultation with the members was irrelevant.

“We never knew about this new criteria set by the board members. We were never called for any meetings to discuss such changes to the guidelines,” he said. “With all my contributions to the industry till date, I feel that all members are important and must be informed of any changes to the system by the board members.”

During a meeting with the board directors yesterday, Rigzang said that the response from some of the board directors came as a surprise to him and others gathered. “When I asked why were we not informed of such decisions, they said they are not obliged to share everything with us all,” he said. “When the people we trusted to lead us gives us such response, our confidence in them totally dies out.”

Meanwhile, BFA in the press release stated that the producers of the films were given due time and notification to submit their movies and all rules were made clear to the producers.

“If anyone has doubts over the conduct of the awards, BFA would like to welcome them to our office. We also have a system whereby movie producers can even check how the jury members graded the movies. As a respectable association, the BFA would like to reiterate that we stand for the professional development of the film Industry,” states the press release.

Younten Tshedup