SING ME A SONG
MUST END TUESDAY, DECEMBER 29
DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY THOMAS BALMÈS
Bhutan, located in the Himalayas and isolated for centuries, only introduced television and the internet in 1999. Thomas Balmès’s documentary, HAPPINESS (2014), profiled Peyangki, an 8-year-old Buddhist monk, living in a sublimely scenic mountain monastery that was previously exempted from this technological leap – just as cables were being laid to plug in this community. In SING ME A SONG, Balmès returns to find a teenaged Peyangki under the sway of technology: smartphone video games and pop love songs compete with the rituals of prayers and meditation, and WeChat fosters a romantic relationship with a young singer. As he considers leaving the monastery, assumptions about the value of connectivity versus tradition are dramatically challenged.
FRANCE 2019 99 MINS. IN DZONGKHA AND LAYAP WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
Watch a Q&A with filmmaker Thomas Balmès – Presented by the Coolidge Corner Theatre.
“Profound. Powerful. How Balmès visually contextualizes his subjects’ struggles is indelible and impactful, transforming their emotions into tangible imagery.”
– Courtney Howard, Variety
“Beautifully filmed, with sharp contrasts between the pristine scenes in the mountain village and the more chaotic urban world that tempts Peyangki and others from his town. This film will not resolve the question of whether technological ‘progress’ represents an advance or a decline in civilization, but it certainly will provoke conversations about that issue. And the focus on a real person over a period of years certainly adds pungency to the debate.”
– Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter
“This exquisitely shot meditation on the future of faith offers a unique snapshot of our changing world. Rewards amply if one saw Happiness and can witness the passage of time on Peyangki and the monastic life more broadly. For audiences who haven’t seen the earlier film, Balmès sprinkles enough footage of the young man’s earlier years to let viewers appreciate the impact of technology on the budding monk. The film taps into the karmic gaps between the world of chants, meditation, and patience compared to the world of house beats, constant distractions, and instant gratification. Straddling the two worlds can cause doubt in a young mind, but Balmès’ striking portrait suggests that such doubts have the power to provide strength. Perhaps by the next film, the monk won’t be so little.”
– Pat Mullen, POV Magazine