Documentaries don’t often get sequels but “Sing a Song,” now available at www.theimpactseries.net, is just that, a follow-up to a story begun in the 2014 film “Happiness.”
We last saw Peyangki as subject of “Happiness.” As an eight-year-old boy growing up in a monastery, his life was on the cusp of change when his remote Himalayan village became the last place in Bhutan to have access to internet connectivity.
Cut to ten years later. In many respects Peyangki’s life is the same. As an eighteen-year-old his devotional routine remains unchanged, but now there are distractions in the form of an ever-present cell phone, social media, Instagram filters and Ugyen, a woman he meets in a chatroom.
Director Thomas Balmès fills the screen with beautiful images that visually hammer home the juxtaposition of an ancient way of life colliding with technology. Old and new sit side by side, not always comfortably. Young Peyangki welcomed technology to his village with a mix of trepidation and excitement. As a teenager he, like so many of us, reaches for the phone first thing every morning, reconnecting with the www, not the world view outside his window. But this isn’t simply a story about a teen who spends too much time on his phone. It’s a character study of a young man caught up in the technological revolution that is reshaping his life.
“Sing Me a Song” is by times melodramatic with just a hint of reality television style interactions between Peyangki and Ugyen, but ultimately this look at consumerism, spiritualism and romance, while specific in its place, has something to say about us all.