Storytelling in Bhutanese cinema: Research context and case study of a film in development

Clayton, Sue and Chaudhuri, Shohini. 2012. Storytelling in Bhutanese cinema: Research context and case study of a film in development. Journal of Screenwriting, 3(2), pp. 197-214. ISSN 1759-7137 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Screenwriter and director Sue Clayton and academic Shohini Chaudhuri consider storytelling structures in Bhutan, a country that has, until recently, been relatively culturally isolated but is now moving towards entering the global stage. As in the rest of South Asia, the dominant cinematic model in Bhutan is that of Bollywood, yet Buddhism, the oral tradition and supernatural beliefs form a rich repertoire of stories that screenwriters of the emerging film industry are increasingly attempting to mine. In this article, we show how cinematic storytelling in Bhutan functions as a kind of 'secondary orality' through our analyses of an earlier international co-production Travellers and Magicians (2003), two local DV films, and the film project that Clayton is developing in dialogue with Bhutanese writers, Jumolhari. We argue that Bhutan's Buddhist, animist and oral traditions challenge and transform classically established cinema conventions of story structure, decentring individual human subjectivity as the controlling force and producing an altogether different kind of hero's journey.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

13 Oct 2015 10:31

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 13:47

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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