Bhutan’s new fes­ti­val gives you an­other ex­cuse to visit

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

As if it wasn’t al­ready on ev­ery trav­eler’s radar, Bhutan is now of­fer­ing a ten- day cul­ture trip as an in­dis­pens­able rea­son to visit

Up­ping the ante for south Asian cul­tural fes­ti­vals is Bhutan, with a ten- day show case of art, film, mu­sic, photography and more from all over the world. Un­der the pa­tron­age of Queen Jet­sun Pema, the Bhutan In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val ( BHIF) is set to have quite the de­but – with award- win­ning films and per­son­al­i­ties ( Dun­can Bridge­man, Lisa Rus­sell), a di­ver­sity of mu­sic with artists like Lucky Ali, Bel­la­trix and Ko­niac Net on stage, sev­eral art and photography ex­hi­bi­tions, a TEDx ses­sion and even a marathon run. It’s not all in­ter­na­tional – there are folk dances, art forms, mu­sic and – what we’re most look­ing for­ward to, food -- on dis­play too. Co- founder Thinley Palden Dorji tells GQ about BHIF’s ge­n­e­sis, what to look out for and why you should be ex­cited.

What was the pur­pose of cre­at­ing BHIF?

The aim is to po­si­tion BHIF as a unique world- class fes­ti­val that serves not only the artis­tic com­mu­nity but has a pos­i­tive rip­ple ef­fect on the lo­cal econ­omy. We de­cided to bring to­gether var­i­ous artis­tic dis­ci­plines with an em­pha­sis on col­lab­o­ra­tion, which will hope­fully in­spire new works of art and new ways of work­ing.

What sets this one apart from the oth­ers present in South Asia?

Most fes­ti­vals in Bhutan and around the globe are about high­light­ing the works of in­di­vid­ual artists. We de­cided to take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach by not only high­light­ing in­di­vid­u­als, but also en­cour­ag­ing and fos­ter­ing artis­tic col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween par­tic­i­pat­ing artists. Fur­ther, we have asked all artists who par­tic­i­pate in BHIF to hold knowl­edge- shar­ing work­shops or mas­ter classes. BHIF is com­mit­ted to fur­ther­ing ed­u­ca­tion in the arts and that is why it is set up as a not- for- profit; so that all prof­its go back into le­gacy projects for the lo­cal com­mu­nity and for fund­ing fu­ture fes­ti­val col­lab­o­ra­tions.

Con­sid­er­ing that Bhutan is any trav­eller’s dream des­ti­na­tion, you’d think a fes­ti­val of this sort would’ve come up a while ago…

It’s true that Bhutan is an ideal des­ti­na­tion for this type of event, but keep in mind that the coun­try has only re­cently emerged from self- im­posed iso­la­tion. His­tor­i­cally, Bhutan has put all of its ef­forts into pre­serv­ing and show­cas­ing its his­toric cul­tural her­itage and pro­mo­tion of the tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals. But we are con­fi­dent the time has come for such an idea to fruc­tify into an amaz­ing fes­ti­val.

What are you ex­cited about from the line- up?

Some of the high­lights are: Lucky Ali, Nick Mul­vey, the Har­vard- Rad­cliffe Orches­tra’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with Jigme Drukpa and our lo­cal mu­si­cians on the mu­sic front; the le­gacy projects for lo­cal artists and or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Zorig ( tra­di­tional crafts), RAPA ( Royal Academy for Per­form­ing Arts); the food fes­ti­val ( with an em­pha­sis on Bhutanese fu­sion food) by HRAB ( Ho­tel and Restau­rants As­so­ci­a­tion in Bhutan); and Edenlab’s cre­ative pro­gramme, who are our event part­ners from the UK.

Why in­clude a marathon run in a cul­tural event?

While it does stand out as a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to the other events, out­door ac­tiv­ity is an in­te­gral part of life for the Bhutanese. Walk­ing and run­ning over the moun­tains is as much a part of our cul­ture as is the mask dance or eat­ing spicy hot “kewa datsi”, the na­tional dish of Bhutan.

( By Nidhi Gupta, Nidhi is the As­sis­tant Edi­tor at GQ In­dia)

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