Bhutan does it again

The Journalist speaks with Charmi Cheda, Director of “Gangnam Girls”
Close on the heels of Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom that reached the last five in the best feature film category at the Oscars, another Bhutanese film, A Samuh original film, ‘Gangnam Girls’ won the Best Debut Feature Film Award at the 24th UK Asian Film Festival 2022 in London.The film, directed by Charmi Chheda, was selected as the closing film of the Festival, with the UK premiere happening at the British Film Institute on May 15. 
In this short interview with The Journalist, Charmi talks about the film, its speciality and the Bhutanese film industry. 

1. How do you feel after winning the award?
In a way, I feel overwhelmed, happy and proud of the entire team, at the same time I’m not someone who just lives in the achievement. This means, what next, what have I learnt and how can I make my next film better. It has aspired me to move forward and tell more stories from Bhutan.
2. What made you/inspired you to make the film? 
I generally love watching films that are made by women, with women centric themes. As women we have a different way of looking at things, not necessarily better, but different and we need to share that with the world. I wanted to even break stereotypes of women and how they are perceived because of the way they talk and carry themselves. Each one is on their own journey, and it’s hard to judge, as things can be quite deceptive, I wanted to highlight that part. And of course the classic female friendship. No matter what, it’s the sisterhood that gives us strength. I have many such friends especially in Bhutan, they mean more than family to me. 
3.    What do you think Gangnam Girls had that made it reach to this height? 
Gangnam girls is a simple story, but I think, we had a very talented and hardworking team, immense love and fun while making it and everone was very professional giving their best. Jigme Tenzing, our DOP is highly experienced and was a real pillar, advising and working beyond hands on in other areas such as editing, colour etc. Thukji Younten is one of the best we have in the country for sound, he has a good ear, but is ready to walk an extra mile for perfection. The crew overall was amazing. And finally it’s all about the story, many who’ve watched the film have all said, they could connect to the film, it reminded them of their childhood. The story and characters were beautifully portrayed by the four Gangnam girls, who are all new or one project old, but put their heart and soul in understanding their roles and then playing it out with magic. Tshering Phuntsho and Tandin Wangchuk even though are much senior, they were extremely punctual and professional, apart from they being superb performers. 
So with all of this coming together immense hard work, talent, passion and love and support from our producer Samuh... I think it all worked out well, beyond what we had imagine. 

4. What do you have to say about the Bhutanese film industry and its potentials?
I have always mentioned one fact, the Bhutanese industry has done extremely well, especially considering the lack of training, professional equipment, and started at a time when Bhutan was still opening up and growing. So given the situation, the job done for all these years is phenomenal. So far it’s great, but now to move ahead, the way forward means, professionalism, process, and finding the voice of the Bhutanese society, the stories that are innate to Bhutan. 
The art house filmmakers have been doing well for sometime now internationally. Unfortunately there is a divide, some are under commercial and some under art, this notion must change. A film is a film, a story is a story, how it’s made and the approach is a different story, but primarily all are filmmakers. Art and creativity cannot be put in boxes, one must breath, fly, have the liberty to create without having to explain, what style, what genre! 

5. Are you thinking of another project? 
Yes already in talks with Samuh for two more projects, writing and directing. At the same time I’m writing scripts for other directors as well.