German filmmaker Irja and Bhutanese farmer Sangay see how quickly Bhutan, after centuries of isolation, starts falling through the traps of unsustainable growth. Passionate and equally idealistic that this trend can be reverted, they team up to make a 25-episode fiction TV series for the only Bhutanese TV-channel, promoting an autonomous modern and sustainable agriculture. Irja and Sangay risk to fail when the very same forces that threaten Bhutan, strain their relationship. Despite their shared vision, locals and foreigners can’t seem to agree on the very basics of collaborating in the project: no common working procedure, little money and time for Western standards, and challenging remote places without the comforts of modern life. For Bhutan a similar challenge lies ahead. Even though Bhutan has developed the admirable vision of Gross National Happiness, the implementation of sustainable growth clashes with the foreign influence of modernization. Both, filmmakers and country, mirroring each other’s paths, may overcome the challenges and thrive towards bigger goals if they re-define who they are while embracing change.
Irja Von Bernstorff is a German screenwriter and director who studied theater and media at the university Bayreuth and at the Sorbonne in Paris. She was editor in chief for the student broadcast campus TV as well as director for magazine-TV formats for the German private channel Kabel1. Working for FechnerMEDIA since 2006, her works include The 4th Revolution – Energy Autonomy and Nuclear Waste in My Backyard.