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The Monk and the Gun

Political satire about a key year in the history of the Kingdom of Bhutan. As the last country in the world, Bhutan gets internet and television in 2006. And (apparently) democratic elections follow.

Last chance
Please note that this film is in Dzongkha and English, with Dutch subtitles.
Time & Tickets

The year 2006 marked a historical turning point for the Kingdom of Bhutan: with the abdication of its king, it began its journey to becoming the world’s youngest democracy. Following the adventures of monks, villagers, urbanites, and one unfortunate foreigner, this big-hearted ensemble drama captures this moment of transition in all its strangeness and wonder.

As Bhutan has never experienced an election, government officials stage a mock election as a training exercise – though even registering folks to vote is a challenge in regions where people don’t know their birthdates. In the village of Ura, an elderly lama, recognizing the great change sweeping his country, instructs a monk to obtain a pair of guns. Meanwhile, Benji takes a gig hosting and translating for Ron, an American antique arms collector who has come to purchase a coveted 19th-century rifle. With a tremendous fee on offer, Ron assumes the transaction will be a slam dunk. He fails to anticipate that, just as the Bhutanese are unfamiliar with democracy, they are also less persuadable when it comes to the laws of commerce.

Helmed by Pawo Choyning Dorji, director of 2019’s Oscar-nominated LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM, and set against Bhutan’s snaking streams and verdant hills, THE MONK AND THE GUN delays explaining the title’s juxtaposition until late in the story – at which point this playful, insightful film becomes a poignant parable about the impossibility of embracing modernity without reckoning with the past. (source: www.tiff.net)

Pawo Choyning Dorji, Bhutan, 2023, 107 min. Dzongkha & English spoken, Dutch subtitles. With Tandin Wangchuk, Deki Lhamo, Pema Zangmo Sherpa, Tandi Sonam, Harry Einhorn.