Bhutan International Festival (BhIF), a first-of-its-kind festival to promote, exhibit and depict Bhutanese arts, music and culture to international and local communities, will be held in Thimphu from February 14-23 this year.
Cognizant of the fact that 2015 is a special year for Bhutan, the 10-day event is perfectly timed considering the 60th Birth Anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the ‘Visit Bhutan Year 2015’, and 35th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on February 21 this year.
BhIf is, therefore, scheduled at this ideal time to celebrate the evolving culture of Bhutan. The festival is a celebration of Bhutanese arts, culture, and music; simultaneously also enabling local artists to collaborate with their international artists/counterparts. This collaboration is envisaged to make the event unique in Bhutan and the world as well.
The main objective of BhIF is to highlight and promote Bhutanese artists and performers of all genres and give them a platform to showcase and collaborate with international artists. It’s envisaged that this will also provide them an opportunity to display and expand their talents, products and outlets.
The event is also expected to help in boosting tourism and in promoting Bhutan as an exciting travel destination. Tourists will have an exciting opportunity to experience the wonders of Bhutan, in its fullest splendor with unique collaborations, art installations and performances.
The Arts Coordinator of BhIF, Punam Rai, describes the 10-day fiesta as ‘a festival for the first time that is solely based on putting spotlight on local talents’, even though there are a lots of international artists participating.
The festival, according to photography curator Upasana Dahal, will render a platform for Bhutanese artists to collaborate and present their works in an international platform.
Approximately 50 international artists and musicians will perform, exhibit and collaborate with Bhutanese indigenous artists and performers during the ten-day festival. There will be five major events under the BhIF – the Art Festival, Thimphu International Music Festival, Bhutan International Film Festival, Bhutan International Marathon and Bhutan International Food Festival.
And while the event is to showcase and provide an outlet for Bhutanese and international artists, it’s not set on a commercial basis to earn profit. The BhIF is expected to support arts in Bhutan from the proceeds that may build up during the event and become sustainable thereafter.
The BhIF organizers hope to make the event self-sustaining through multiple fund raising activities. It’s also hoped to make the BhIF an annual event from 2015 to position Bhutan as a creative heavyweight on the international circuit of art events.
The initial concept to hold such an event, meanwhile, was suggested by Mr. James Fitzgerald, a New York based businessman and entrepreneur, and the Founder and Chairman of Bhutan Ventures. Mr. Fitzgerald had then recruited Mr. Justin Wickham, a former UK Documentary Producer and Director of BBC Television, and the Founder and Executive Director of non-profit education group Learning Planet based in Nepal and India. The duo, thereafter, began to seek partners and sponsors for the festival.
Presently, the coordinators of BhIF comprise different individuals working through their own personal initiatives. The promoter of the BhIF will, however, be “Dragon Festival’, which will be established as a non-profit organization in Bhutan. Dragon Festival will then work alongside Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators as its principal partner.
Eden Project, from the UK, is for the first time making a foray into Bhutan, landing as Edenlab.
At an earmarked space during the 10-day Bhutan International Festival, Edenlab will hold engaging public events such as informative art installations, exploring people’s connection with nature. Edenlab artist, known as Mileece, will wire up a diverse selection of plants from all over Bhutan to measure their electro-conductivity. Visitors are then invited to interact with the plants by touching or breathing on them and the interaction sets off a series of sounds and light responses demonstrating the sentience of plants and how our connection with the plants stimulates and therefore changes their conductivity.
Another engaging program is the multi-award winning danceroom Spectroscopy (dS) – a high-impact and accessible digital installation. Fusing rigorous methods from computational physics with the state-of-the-art computing, dS uses real-time 3d capture to interpret people as fields whose movement creates ripples and waves in an invisible sea of energy.