Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom is a heart-warming, feel-good movie that will leave you feeling inspired. It follows the story of a teacher (Ugyen Dorji played by Sherab Dorji) who is under contract with the government of Bhutan to complete mandatory service. He has almost completed his teacher education but because his attitude is considered inappropriate, his supervisor sends him to the most remote school in the world, Lunana. Getting to Lunana is a challenge due to its remoteness. And the conditions in Lunana are harsh, with little to no modern amenities or resources. It is in the Himalayas, and during winter, the temperatures drop to below zero and the only way to get there is by yak and walking. The film follows the struggles that Ugyen Dorji faces as he tries to instruct the children in Lunana, many of whom have never been to school before and never been outside their village.
Ugyen’s transition from a modern life in a city to a simple life in Lunana is not an easy one, and the film does an excellent job of portraying the struggles that he faces. It is through these struggles that Ugyen begins to appreciate the simplicity of life in Lunana and the importance of his work as a teacher.
The film is slowly paced, but this only serves to highlight the contrast between the fast-paced modern world and the simplicity of life in Lunana. This may present a challenge to those who are not used to slowing down and taking the time to appreciate the little things in life, but it is ultimately a rewarding experience.
The film is beautifully filmed on location in Lunana and the local actors do an excellent job of portraying the characters and the culture. The children are a joy to watch and their interactions with Ugyen are often hilarious.
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom does have its flaws (e.g., the slow pace, the lack of action) so I can’t say it’s a great movie. But it’s a good movie for the whole family, and one that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for something different.
(In cinemas in Australia – check your movie guide for your local show times.)