SIFF Film Center, Seattle – Sunday, October 16th – 12:00 PM
The Farmer and I, Irja Bernstorff, 2016, English / German, 81 min
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 to collapse 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.