How often do you find yourself watching a film and when it ends wondering how it will all turn out? Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but several years down the line. Richard Linklater answered that question quite beautifully in his ‘Before’ trilogy. That prospect of a brighter future can easily sour. In Happiness, Thomas Balmès introduced us to an eight-year-old monk, Peyangki, who was praying for a TV set in rural Bhutan.
Whilst television and the internet were only introduced into the Himalayan kingdom in 1999, their grip and influence have spread far and wide. Balmès returns to the monastery in Laya to find our intrepid monk much changed. Rituals and prayers now compete with smart phones in the remote village. Peyangki has become disillusioned with his life, spending much of his time WeChat, speaking to a young singer who lives in the capital.
Sing Me a Song follows the young man as he travels to Thimphu to begin a new chapter of his life, but he’s in for a bit of a shock. The beautiful mountainous backdrop of Happiness is replaced by the neon glow of the city. Balmès frames his conundrum in the glare of modern Bhutan. A nation caught between tradition and progression. Sing Me a Song paints a fractured picture of a person and a country trying to come to terms with their place in the world.
Sing Me a Song is released by Dogwoof on 1 January.