Ben Oliver

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Banner image for Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
film

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

Maybe I was a yak herder in my previous life.
21 July 2023

A Bhutanese teacher from the city (Sherab Dorji) is sent to Lunana, an extremely remote village up in the mountains, inhabited only by a few yak herders and their families.

You may not have seen a film from Bhutan before, but you will definitely be familiar with the premise of Lunana. A city boy who wants to leave home and go to Sydney is instead consigned to the middle of nowhere.

On the six day trek up to the village he’s addicted to his iPod. When he reaches Lunana he doesn’t really know what to do with himself. But soon he becomes in touch with the way of life up there, and forms a bond with his pupils.

You can probably write the rest yourself. In fact it almost came as a shock to me that this film would follow the same pattern as dozens of Hollywood movies before it. It’s like the film is made for foreigners like me to see.

Lunana goes against all the tenets of Hollywood film-making however by travelling to the real location and using real people from the village in the film. Where often this might be a recipe for a financial and creative disaster, it works really well here. The school kids in particular are extremely cute but also naturals on camera.

Completely charming, and for me at least an insight into a country and culture I wasn’t familiar with outside of the silly ‘happiness index’.