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Mother Tongue Film Festival: "The Next Guardian"
Baird Auditorium

 Two men sit and talk inside a temple

  Image credit: Eclipse Film






FREE ticketed event

The contrasting dreams of two generations clash within the microcosm of an ancient Buddhist monastery in Bhutan, when Gyembo—an ordinary teen—is chosen as the next guardian of the family monastery.

In a remote village in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, sixteen-year-old Gyembo and his sister Tashi, age fifteen, aimlessly roam while their father meticulously polishes the ancient relics inside the altar of their private monastery. This family has been taking care of the monastery from one generation to the next for thousands of years. Unlike their father, whose life revolves around the monastery, Gyembo and Tashi have other desires. Gyembo wants to become a soccer player, and he is the only confidante for Tashi, who identifies herself as transgender. Following tradition, their father wants Gyembo to carry on the family heritage. He believes that the only way for Gyembo to accumulate good karma is to leave school and dedicate his life to religion and become the next guardian.

The screening is preceded by a Bhutanese performance, and followed by a Q&A session with the filmmakers Dorottya Zurbó and Arun Bhattarai, and guests from the Bhutan Foundation, Dr. Bruce W. Bunting (President and Member of the Board) and Dawa Sherpa (Director of Programs and Operations).

This program is offered as part of the Mother Tongue Film Festival, an annual collaborative Smithsonian event initiated by the Recovering Voices Program of the National Museum of Natural History.

Directors: Dorottya Zurbó, Arun Bhattarai

Country: Hungary/Bhutan

Language: Dzongkha

Year: 2017

Runtime: 74 minutes

Category: Documentary


Accessibility Information

The National Museum of Natural History is committed to providing inclusive experiences for all audiences. Please contact 202-633-3611 or email for access services. To view and print a map with accessible entrances, curb cuts, designated parking, and more for Smithsonian facilities on the National Mall, please download the Accessibility Map here. 

If you would like to have a sign language interpreter or real-time captioning (CART), you should call (202) 633-3611 or send an e-mail to Please allow time to schedule the request by contacting the Accessibility Office at least 2 weeks prior to the program. We will do our best to accommodate last-minute requests.

Time: 6:45 PM - 8:30 PM
Ground Floor, National Museum of Natural History
10th St. and Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20013-7012
United States

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