Filmmaking in the Himalayas

Central to Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage are the thirteen traditional arts and crafts that have been practiced from time immemorial. But ever since the success of Bhutan’s first feature film in 1989, the Bhutanese film industry has steadily become an exciting addition to the country’s cultural sector. With a newly established Film Commission and 150-acre production lot, Bhutan’s government is investing heavily in the power of the moving image. FILMMAKERS WITHOUT BORDERS will play a key role in educating the next generation of Bhutanese filmmakers.

Country Information

Program Overview

FILMMAKERS WITHOUT BORDERS places experienced filmmakers and arts educators in schools and community organizations across the city of Thimphu. Participants teach filmmaking, media literacy, and technology directly to Bhutanese students and also work with local artist collectives and media organizations in an effort to integrate digital tools into Bhutan’s creative sector. Filmmakers are provided airfare, housing, a food stipend, and evacuation insurance for 1 full year. 

FILMMAKERS WITHOUT BORDERS teaches filmmaking and media literacy directly to students at Thimphu’s Early Learning Center (ELC). Additionally, Fellows collaborate with such organizations as the Bhutan Center for Media and Democracy and VAST to provide opportunities for youth empowerment and creativity. 

Volunteers in the Bhutan program must:

  • Be a native or native-level English speaker
  • Have a bachelor’s degree
  • Have at least 2 years of film-related and/or teaching experience
  • Be highly flexible, mature, and have a genuine interest in teaching

FILMMAKERS WITHOUT BORDERS has a rolling admissions process for all of our programs. However, we strongly encourage you to apply as early as possible to strengthen your chances of acceptance into your chosen program. All application materials including your personal statement, resume, references, transcripts and interviews must be submitted by the application deadline.

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Host Organization

FWB partners with both the Bhutan Foundation and The Early Learning Center (ELC). The Bhutan Foundation is a US-based nonprofit that oversees Bhutan’s interests and partnerships across the United States and ELC is a private elementary school situated in Thimphu, the capital city. Founded in 1999, it aims to educate Bhutanese youth in accordance with Bhutan’s policy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). Additionally, in 2015 ELC expanded its operations to launch its inaugural high school class. 

Travel & Housing

FILMMAKERS WITHOUT BORDERS and its partners cover the cost of flights and housing for one full year. Participants will be provided with round-trip airfare to their destination city. Participants will live together in apartments or houses.

Living & Teaching in Bhutan

FWB participants teach Bhutanese students in collaboration with the Bhutan Foundation’s community and youth development projects.

Dates & Deadlines

  • Program Dates: Feb. 2017 – January 2018
  • Priority Application Deadline: September 15th, 2016
  • Final Application Deadline: October 15th, 2016
  • Additional Timetables

Health & Safety

Our number one priority is the health and safety of participating filmmakers. In-country orientation includes discussion of health and safety issues and practical information to enable participants to stay safe and well. Throughout the year, the Field Director and your host community will serve as a support system for you as you navigate a new country. Although most of the countries where FILMMAKERS WITHOUT BORDERS works do not have medical facilities comparable to those in the United States, we avoid placing volunteers at sites that do not have access to adequate medical care. All volunteers are required to secure independent emergency medical evacuation insurance. 

Financial Details

The Bhutan Program is fully funded. FILMMAKERS WITHOUT BORDERS and its partner organizations cover the total cost of flights, housing, food (monthly stipend), and evacuation insurance.  However, participants are required to submit a fully-refundable $1000 deposit that will be returned to them upon completion of their 1 year contract.

Ready to teach filmmaking to students in the Kingdom of Bhutan?  Apply Now!