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‘Power of the RiverExpedition to the Heart of Water in Bhutan’

20 December 2022

Bhutanese Himalayan river adventure showcases pursuit of the elusive endangered fish – the Golden Mahseer


(Bhutan, December 20, 2022): An adventure documentary filmed on Bhutan's wildest river will be released to the world on Sunday, January 8, 2023. The film features Karma "Good Karma" Tshering leading a team of Bhutanese river guides and international anglers on an expedition across this remote mountainous kingdom. Spending eight days in rafts and kayaks on the largely unexplored Drangme River, the team pursued an elusive endangered fish, the Golden Mahseer. As a first-ever flyfishing descent of the Drangme, the trek required permission from Bhutan's Government.

Director Greg I. Hamilton, whose first film played Sundance and 20 other film festivals, says: "Power of the River was an opportunity to take audiences into a culture we know so very little about— and off the map to a place that is a sanctuary for numerous endangered species."

Sundance founder Robert Redford called Power of the River "a cinematic adventure into the heart of wilderness." He added that the film "captures the connection between people and the rivers that are our lifeblood."

The Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan is perhaps most famous for its concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), as coined by its king in 1972. That same king made an ambitious commitment to keep 60 percent of his country's land protected forever, as written in the constitution. His pledge, far more ambitious than any other country today, is what drew the crew to the project. Hamilton explains: "Film is a powerful medium for spreading wisdom and Bhutan's commitment to protecting nature benefits everyone on the planet."

Despite severe population declines elsewhere, the golden mahseer is flourishing—thanks to the country’s strong environmental protections and the religious reverence bestowed upon it. Among anglers, the golden mahseer is one of the world’s most prized catches. Up to nine feet long and golden-hued with big scales, it has a reputation as one of the world’s hardest fighting fish.

Based on the findings from the Mahseer research works carried out in Bhutan from 2015-18, and following the recommendations from the first International Mahseer Conference held in Bhutan in 2018, the ban on Mahseer fishing has been lifted in Bhutan since February 2022 for exclusive catch and immediate release. Mahseer recreational fishing and for that matter, any fishing requires a permit from the Department of Forests and Park Services, Royal Government of Bhutan. For any foreign angler, a certified local fishing guide is required. The best time for fishing golden mahseer is between March – June, and September – November.

The film has played at eight festivals including the International Wildlife Film Festival and the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital. It features an original soundtrack by Stefan Smulovitz and Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn's song "What'cha Gonna Do," from their Grammy-winning album. That song appears in a music video featuring four minutes of footage from the film. The film itself will soon be free to view across the world through public television and online streaming. Visit to learn where to watch and sign up for a reminder.

About POWER OF THE RIVER - In the last Himalayan kingdom, a man named “Good Karma” guides an expedition to keep his country’s mightiest river wild and free. Join Karma's international team of adventurers on their quest through Class IV+ whitewater in pursuit of an elusive fish of kings.

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