1 hr. 50 min. | Rated PG | Coarse language
Starring: Sherab Dorji, Tshering Dorji, Ugyen Norbu Lhendup, Sonam Tashi, Kelden Lhamo Gurung
An absolute gem that's my new favourite 2022 movie. Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom is the story of Ugyen. He is a trainee teacher who has completed four of the mandatory five years of his course and must now be sent out to a country school to test his skills in a classroom. But the school is in a village some 5000 metres above sea-level. Population about 50. And a yak.
Lunana unfolds as it must. Films about cynical teachers from the city who are posted to country schools only have one trajectory.And yet, Lunana. A Yak in the Classroom manages to transcend the lot. And not just for the fabulous scenery.
This is a genuinely lovable film. Even though you will guess that the outcome might be a happy one and there will be hugs and life-lessons for all before the credits roll, nothing – I hope – will prepare you for the warm-heartedness and lack of artifice here. Lunana might be a very old story, but it has seldom been reduced to its component parts and then reassembled with as much love.
Listen, I make no secret of the fact that I adore this job. And the best thing about it isn't the “big nights” with the superheroes and the spaceships. No, what I love the most and always will, is sitting down to watch a film I know nothing about, in a setting of such unlikeliness that my friends will not even believe that the film exists – and then being blown away and set on fire all over again by what a first-time director and a cast of unknowns can achieve with a plot we already know inside and out.
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom is an absolute gem. Just as Ugyen makes the journey to Lunana, so I reckon you should walk or catch an Uber or a bus to wherever in your town is showing it.
And then, when your friends call to ask where you have been, you can tell them you have seen a film about a Bhutanese teacher and a yak. And then, like me, you can tell them that you absolutely loved it. Bravo.