Chhimi Dema

The country’s film industry rode on the many opportunities after the start of two over-the-top (OTT) platforms last year.

However, according to those in the industry, these platforms are helping the industry to grow but content quality remaining questionable still.

Filmmaker, Chand RC, said that OTT platforms are promising for the industry’s growth and bring new opportunities to filmmakers.

The emerging technologies have helped enhance the picture quality of the Bhutanese films, he said, but film content development has remained stagnant.

According to the filmmaker, Bhutan lacks behind in tapping the local narratives.

The National Film Policy 2011 states that the film industry’s growth is quantitative without substantial improvement in the craft of filmmaking and storytelling.

The policy states that the country has a huge potential for developing film content. “Its exotic locations and rich culture and traditions provide a unique and rich source of stories to both Bhutanese and foreign filmmakers.”

Chand RC said that the industry should support ideas and concepts that are rooted in the country’s cultural diversity rather than bringing references from outside.

Having outside influence brings a danger of forgetting Bhutan’s narratives, he said. “OTT platforms have opened a space for discussion for change but the kind of change we want depends largely on the collaborative effort of everyone involved.”

In the past two years, four Bhutanese films have received international recognition.

Last week, a film produced by Samuh and directed by Charmi Chheda, Gangnam Girls, won the Best Debut Feature Film Award at the 24th UK Asian Film Festival 2020 in London. The film was also premiered at the Nepal International Film Festival 2022.

Films such as Snow Lion and The Glaciologist, Why is the sky dark at night?, and Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom were shown at international festivals. The latter was selected as the 2021 Oscars nomination.

A film producer, Dorji Wangchuk, said that the OTT platforms are an additional market for films from the main market–cinema halls.

He said: “The earnings from a film have increased because producers have the option to sell it to the OTT platforms that have a wider audience.”

When income from a film increases, the producers can spend more on production by focusing on recruiting the right actors and procuring quality equipment, he added.

Cinematographer, Yeshi Thai, said that OTT platforms allow creativity to take shape through films.  “There is flexibility while filming for content on OTT platforms. From dialogues to costumes, we can portray it realistically.”

He said that OTT platforms provide avenues for both independent and commercial filmmakers to present their work, fostering competition among filmmakers and bringing the best to the viewers.

Currently, however, OTT platforms are faced with copyright infringement cases.