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  • Dir. Pawo Choyning Dorji
  • Bhutan
  • 2023
  • 107 min.
  • PG-13
  • DCP

In English and Dzongkha with English subtitles

  • Assistive Listening
  • Closed Captioning
  • Descriptive Audio
  • Subtitled
  • Hearing Loop

The year 2006 marked a historical turning point for the Kingdom of Bhutan — with the abdication of its King, it began its journey to becoming the world’s youngest democracy. Following the adventures of monks, villagers, urbanites, and one hapless foreigner, this big-hearted ensemble drama captures that moment of transition in all its strangeness and wonder.

As Bhutan has never experienced an election, government officials stage a mock election as a training exercise — though even registering folks to vote is a challenge in regions where people don’t know their birthdates. In the village of Ura, an elderly lama, recognizing the great change sweeping his country, instructs a monk (Tandin Wangchuk) to obtain a pair of guns. Meanwhile, Benji (Tandin Sonam) takes a gig hosting and translating for Ron (Harry Einhorn), an American antique arms collector who has come to purchase a coveted 19th-century rifle. With a tremendous fee on offer, Ron assumes the transaction will be a slam dunk. He fails to anticipate that, just as the Bhutanese are unfamiliar with democracy, they are also less persuadable when it comes to the laws of commerce.

Helmed by Pawo Choyning Dorji, director of 2019’s Oscar-nominated LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM, and set against Bhutan’s snaking streams and verdant hills, THE MONK AND THE GUN delays explaining the title’s juxtaposition until late in the story — at which point this playful, wise film becomes a poignant parable about the impossibility of embracing modernity without reckoning with the past. (Synopsis from Toronto International Film Festival)

“Delightfully blending political satire and the Western genre, with a mostly unknown cast of charming untrained actors, Dorji’s crowd-pleasing film should prove approachable enough to warm both critics and adventurous audiences.” —Robert Daniels, Screen Daily

“A winding, tangled parable about modern life coming to a people that don’t understand why they can’t keep doing things the way that’s always worked for them, THE MONK AND THE GUN starts with a crazy premise and quietly gets sillier and wilder.” —Steve Pond, The Wrap 

“Dorji’s film is a warm, light-hearted, often funny story of a place shifting from one way of life to another, uncertain whether newer is necessarily better. It’s always a sunny day with blue skies and flowers blooming, shot beautifully by cinematographer Jigme Tenzing.” —Alex Heeney, Seventh Row

See the Official Website