MPAB alters modus operandi for film awards

This was to steer clear of controversies which arose last year during the 10th National Film Awards

Motion Picture Association of Bhutan (MPAB) has amended the procedure to nominate films for the 11th National Film Awards which will be held today evening at the Royal Thimphu College (RTC) auditorium after the 10th NFA last year opened a Pandora’s Box of controversies.

This was particularly after Chencho Dorji’s film ‘Bardo’ got 24 nominations and swept off 14 awards including the best director’s award.

Unlike last year, when the review panel consisted only of experts from outside the film industry, members from the film fraternity have also been selected by MPAB to review certain aspects of films for nominations and awards among others.

One of the juries this year, Tashi Gyeltshen said, film makers have been made juries of the review panel for the first time.

MPAB’s General Secretary, Sherub Gyeltshen said, production houses were not happy with the juries in the past. Film makers cited favoritism and conflict of interest claiming that the awards were not fair. “When juries are from outside, people keep cribbing about some being favored during the review process”, he said.

“As Bhutanese, some people do not defeat or failure sometimes”, he added.

In 2011, following a complaint letter received by the MPAB president from the members within the film fraternity expressing dissatisfaction  with the judgments, MPAB set up an independent committee under the chairmanship of its president, Ugen Tshechup Dorji to investigate the conduct of the awards.

Some filmmakers had argued that ‘Bardo’, which swept the awards, had borrowed its concept from the Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Ghost’.

However, MPAB later ruled out any major flaws in the 10th NFA except for an error in tabulation over the best lyricist award which went to Kinlay Gyeltshen of ‘Bardo’ instead of Thinlay Wangchuk of ‘Highland Girl’. The rightful winner was later re-announced.

MPAB’s investigation team also clarified that “Bardo” was neither a copy nor an adaptation of the Hollywood film.

Ugen Tshechup said, “There will always be winners and losers. So, what we have maintained is a very transparent judgement”. He also said that a major complaint last year was about the credentials of the juries which have been taken care of this year. “We want directors to judge directors, actors to judge actors, cameramen to judge cameramen and so on”, he added.

Of the 15-member jury panel this year, an independent committee of five members comprises film makers. The committee will review films for nominations and awards in the ‘Best Direction’ and ‘Best Acting’ categories.

The other two committees of five juries each from within and outside the film industry will review the technical and cultural aspects of a film. The review panel consists of technical specialists and experts from the Department of Culture, Institute of Language Cultural Sciences (ILCS) and Dzongkha Development Commission (DDC).

Vice president of MPAB, Kesang P Jigmee said, “Though complaints are always there every year from losers, we have tried our best to avoid loopholes this year.” Sherub Gyeltshen said, in the past a jury after reviewing a film gave scores but now in addition to that, juries need to justify their remarks within the committee after reviewing each film.

“They can discuss any differences or confusion in their judgments before nominating a film for an award”, he said.

The review started on April 20, with three films screened a day at Ninda Bioscope, a twin theatre located in Olakha, Thimphu. Twenty-one films have been reviewed for the nominations today.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck will be the chief guest at the 11th NFA.

There are 30 different award categories this time including three cash awards for the best film based on culture and tradition which will receive Nu 0.1mn, sponsored by the Department of Culture. The best film promoting national language will win Nu 50,000. The best film based on youth and education will receive Nu 50,000 from the office of His Majesty’s secretariat. All category winners will get trophies and certificates.

Of the 26 films last year, 18 failed miserably in the market. Five films withdrew voluntarily from contesting at the NFA.

The 11th NFA is funded by the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs.

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