Samuel Goldwyn Films Acquires LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM

Samuel Goldwyn Films announced TODAY that they are back in the Oscar race for Best International Film after scoring 3 nominations last year for ANOTHER ROUND (which also saw Thomas Vinterberg nominated for Best Director) and THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN.

The company has acquired North American rights to the heartwarming, gorgeously lensed Bhutanese film LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM, which is shortlisted for Best International Film at the 2022 Academy Awards. The charming story of a young teacher sent to teach at the most remote mountain school in the world was written and directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji. Produced by Dorji, Steven Xiang, Stephane Lai and Honglin Jia, the film premiered at the BFI London Film Festival in 2019 and won the Audience Awards at last year’s Palm Springs Film Festival. Samuel Goldwyn Films will announce release plans shortly.

The deal was negotiated by Peter Goldwyn, President of Samuel Goldwyn Films and Julien Razafindranaly, Head of Sales of Films Boutique.

In the film, a young teacher fulfilling a government post dreams of emigrating to Australia but instead finds himself assigned to a school in the most remote village in Northern Bhutan that does not have running water or electricity. The high altitude, a lack of amenities and the increasingly cold weather as the winter closes in, make him want to leave as soon as he arrives. The local children launch a charm offensive in a bid to convince him to stay before the truly harsh conditions of winter hit. Shot on location in one of the most remote human settlements in the world, the production had to rely entirely on solar batteries. Most of the actors are local yak herders who had never seen the world beyond their village, so they were making a movie without ever having watched one.

Pawo Choyning Dorji said, “With Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, I just wanted to share a story that was culturally, geographically and linguistically diverse from the rest of the world, but a story that touched upon the universal human value of trying to find where we belong. I think during this pandemic, when we suffer so much from sickness, separation and anxiety, celebrating the values that unite us together as humanity does so much to help us. I could not feel more confident ot be in the hands of Samuel Goldwyn Films after their brilliant release of last year’s ANOTHER ROUND and THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN.

Peter Goldwyn said “LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROM is like a breath of fresh air during these dark and uncertain times. Pawo Choyning Dorji has made a film about what connects us as humans with so much heart that we are certain that it will connect with viewers. Not only that but it’s one of the most beautiful films I have seen in ages transporting us to the far reaches of THE HIMALAYAS in Bhutan, a world we rarely see in the movies. We are thrilled to collaborate with him and the Films Boutique team to bring this to American audiences.”

LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM, a film from Bhutan, the country known around the globe for its unconventional measure of happiness, called Gross National Happiness (GNH) has finally been able for the first time in 23 years, to submit a film as the official Oscar Entry for the upcoming 94th Academy Awards.

The funny fact is that LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM, was already submitted by the Bhutanese government’s Ministry of Information and Communications last year as the Oscar Entry from Bhutan.

Unfortunately, it was not officially accepted by the Academy because Bhutan hadn’t submitted a film in decades and did not have an officially recognized committee. By the time the Bhutanese government was informed by the Academy of LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM’s submission being disqualified, there was no time to go through a lengthy process of forming a selection committee, submitting to the Academy for renewal and then resubmitting the film for the 93rd Academy Awards.

The newly formed National Film Commission of Bhutan took over the whole initiative. Over the past year, they formed a special selection committee known as the Committee for Selection of Films for International Awards (CSFIA), the committee was made of up respected members of Bhutanese society, including Khyentse Norbu, director of THE CUP (Phörpa), which premiered at the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes and was Bhutan’s first submission to THE ACADEMY AWARDS in 1999. The committee was officially recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, then they unanimously selected LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM as Bhutan’s official submission for the 94th Academy Awards.

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Samuel Goldwyn Films Acquires LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM

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