THE FARMER AND I

By Irja VON BERNSTORFF

FECHNERMEDIA GMBH - as PROD

Documentary - Completed 2015

When German filmmaker Irja teams up with Bhutanese farmer Sangay to create a fictional yet educational TV series promoting local sustainable farming, they are threatened by the same aberrations that they are trying to combat, echoing Bhutan’s struggle to redefine its identity in the globalized world

Festivals
& Awards

Max Ophüls Film Festival 2016
    • Year of production
    • 2015
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • GERMANY
    • Languages
    • GERMAN, ENGLISH
    • Duration
    • 81 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Irja VON BERNSTORFF
    • Writer(s)
    • Irja VON BERNSTORFF
    • Synopsis
    • German filmmaker Irja and Bhutanese farmer Sangay see how quickly Bhutan, after centuries of isolation, starts falling into the trap of unsustainable growth: replacing homegrown food with lower quality imports from India; youth emigrating to cities, where they face unemployment; loss of customs and culture in favor of Western models. Passionate and equally idealistic in their belief that this trend can be reverted, they team up to make a 25-episode fiction TV series for the only Bhutanese TV channel. Promoting autonomous modern and sustainable agriculture and offering an alternative to city life, the TV series appeals to a young Bhutanese audience in an identity crisis, disconnected from their parents’ generation of traditional farmers.
      Irja and Sangay risk failure when the very same forces that threaten Bhutan with collapse strain their relationship. Despite their shared vision, locals and foreigners can’t seem to agree even on the basics of collaborating on the project: no common working procedure, little money and time for Western standards, and problematic remote places without the comforts of modern life.
      For Bhutan, a similar challenge lies ahead. Even though Bhutan has developed the admirable goal of Gross National Happiness, the implementation of sustainable growth clashes with the foreign influence of modernization. The fight for independent, ecological food production is essential and a decisive step for its future—a step that could be significant for the rest of the world as well. Both, filmmakers and country, mirroring each other’s paths, must overcome the obstacles and strive toward bigger goals if they are to redefine who they are while incorporating change.
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