[BIFF WORLD] The Red Phallus
Bhutan finds its contribution to the #MeToo discussion in measured and exquisitely rendered feature, The Red Phallus . Though Bhutan is known worldwide for its concept of Gross National Happiness and to cinephiles for the light-heartedness of Khyentse Norbu’s The Cup and Travellers and magicians , The Red Phallus brings the Buddhist nation’s version of feminist angst to the world. Tshering Euden plays frustrated schoolgirl Sangay, who is fed up with being known as the daughter of an artisan responsible for creating lucky wooden phallic decorations and annoyed by the amorous attentions of a boorish yak butcher who wants her to elope with him to Thimphu City. Writer/ Director Tashi Gieltshen concentrates on the slow burn, but deliberate pacing still holds the attention as the film is buttressed by images of jaw-droppingly beautiful mountains and mist. The atmosphere of long suppressed, slowly escalating rage is intensely underscored by astute sound design that makes full use of the diegetic noises of the elements as wind and rain sweep across the Bhutanese landscape. Though clearly non-professional, all the cast are competent; but as the lead character with an axe to grind with the local patriarchy, actress Tshering Eudenis an unforgettable presence.