Chencho Dema 

The Bhutanese film “The Monk and the Gun” by Director Pawo Choyning Dorji has been shortlisted for Best International Film at the 96th Academy Awards to be held on March 10.

The 96th Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood in Los Angeles.

The Monk and the Gun is among the 15 films in the category of International feature film shortlisted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Director Pawo Choyning Dorji rose to international fame when his 2022 film Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, was nominated for Oscars in the Best International Film category in 2022. The film did not win an award.

But at home his contributions to Bhutanese films and achievements at the international stage was recognised with the country’s most prestigious and honourable Druk Thuksey medal.  

“I am so honored and grateful to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for giving me this precious opportunity to represent my country and my culture,” Pawo Choying Dorji posted on his Facebook page. 

“Thankful to all the crew, the cast, the producers and the entire team for helping make all this possible,” he posted.

The BICMA announced on September 8 that the film “The Monk and the Gun” has been selected as Bhutan’s submission for the Best International Feature Film category at the 96th Academy Awards. 

“The Monk And The Gun stood out as the unanimous choice of the Selection Committee. The film has garnered acclaim for its innovative storytelling, unique thematic elements, strong narrative, and exceptional performances by the cast. It was seen as a true reflection of Bhutan, both in terms of its narrative and technical craftsmanship,” said BICMA.

The film has received several awards across the globe – the Best Original Screenplay at the Stars Asian International Film Festival in Los Angeles, USA, Director’s Choice Award at the 10th Illuminate Film Festival in Santa Barbara, California, won IMDb Audience Award at Jio Mumbai film festival, the Special Jury Prize at the Rome Film Festival in Rome, Italy. 

In Vancouver International Film Festival, the film won the Audience Choice Award for the Showcase category, at the Woodstock Film Festival in New York the film got the honorable mention in both the Gigantic Pictures Award for Best Feature Film and the Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography. 

The film had its world premiere on September 1, 2023, at the 50th Telluride Film Festival. 

The Monk and the Gun is the third Bhutanese film to be nominated for an Oscar. Kyentse Norbu’s  ‘The Cup’ was nominated in 1999, and Pawo Choyning Dorji’s Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, in 2022.