Gift of the Dragon King

* feature-length documentary seeking finishing funds

* filmed on location in Bhutan

What happens when the king of an ancient culture -- who has controlled the rate of modernization in his country -- decides to peacefully hand over the reins of power to his people? 

Gift of the Dragon King challenges Western culture’s definition of prosperity. In the Himalayan country of Bhutan, an ancient culture is undergoing a remarkable social and political transformation. One of the most remote and isolated cultures in the world, Bhutan has eschewed Western values, declaring that happiness – measured by its “Gross National Happiness” index - is a critical measure for the national’s success.

In 1999, Bhutan's 4th Dragon King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, lifted a ban on television and the Internet, and in 2008 he voluntarily gave up power  -- transforming Bhutan from a monarchy to a democracy, ending more than a century of absolute rule.

In just one generation, the Bhutanese people have moved from relative isolation to a 21st century, digitally connected world. Our documentary follows a group of Bhutanese citizens as they are exposed to Western values and adapt to life in a democracy, exploring the existential search for happiness in an increasingly materialistic world. Gift of the Dragon King captures these changes and follows the strange twists and turns, illuminating and reflecting our own Western social values and priorities. What happened to “Gross National Happiness” in Bhutan? Is it time for us to reassess our definition of happiness and prosperity?


Our main characters include a Buddhist monk, a television reporter, a farmer, two students, the first psychiatrist in Bhutan and the former tutor to the 4th King – a U.K. schoolmaster, one of the first westerners to live in Bhutan in the 1970s, now the first Honorary Consul of the United Kingdom in Bhutan.


STATUS: We filmed on location in Bhutan for five months during 2007/2008 to witness the election and gain unprecedented access to schools, hospitals and monasteries. Our goal is to return to Bhutan and complete this once-in-a-lifetime story by discovering how life has changed for our subjects … the birth of children, divorce, students entering the job force, and a former monk who is now an IT specialist in the U.S. Funded to date by private donations, our compilation of compelling HD footage has been logged by the award-winning editor Sabine Krayenbuhl. We are seeking funding for the final location shoot in Bhutan and for post-production to complete Gift of the Dragon King. Please contact us to join our team and support this fascinating and timely film!

©2020 Karen Mintz  

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