The Beautiful Game
The Cup scores a hat trick of firsts: A Tibetan language film, about football, shot in a monastery by monks. Writer, director and Buddhist lama KHYENTSE NORBU tells The List how
and why. ~ Miles Fielder
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'Monks got up at three in the morning, did their meditation and prayers until six and then
the shooting started . . .' Khyentse Norbu
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When I took the role of drsoplmanan many years ago, I began notrCrng thrs monk disappearing at nrght to the local vrllage to watch football On televrsron Later, when I became rnterested rn makrng a frlm, I thought thrs was the most physrcal story I (ould do '
Norbu's storytellrng concerns are physrcal rather than sprrrtual, rn thrs sense The Cup rs a srmple tale It's about a yOung trarnee monk whose obsessrve desrre to see the 1998 World Cup frnal spreads throughout hrs rrronastery. Havrng rarsed an $80,000 budget through producer Jeremy lhomas, Norbu lrlmed on locatron at Choklrng lvlonastery-rn-exrle m the Hrmalayas of Northern Indra Wrth a (ast (omprrsed entrrely of monks
'The darly routrne of the monastery was stopped for srx weeks,’ explarns Norbu 'Monks got up at three rn the mornrng, drd therr rnedrtatron and prayers untrl srx and then the shootrng started and went on untrl eleven at nrght Many people drdn’t belreve l was attually makrng a frlm some of the monks were re<ently escaped from Trbet and they had never seen brg (ameras' '
Trbet means two thrngs to most Westerners » Buddhrsm and Chrnese oppressron. Grven the current (Irmate rn Trbet, was there not pressure to make a polrtrcal statement7 ‘I am not polrtrcal at all,’ says Norbu, who was
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born rrr lrbet's nerghbourrrrg country, Bhutan and now lrves at Choklrng 'But when I make a trlm about exrled Trbetan monks l (annot av0rd the fatt that they have been exrled, the la<t that the Chrnese have rnvaded Trbet However, my mam rrrtentrorts were to make a frlm jllSt for the sake of makrng a frlm, to break the Western rdea of monks, to show they are human berngs, and to prepare the older generatron of Trbetans for the 21st (entury’
The frrral, obvrous guestron Has the Dalar Lama grverr The Cup hrs blessrng? Auordrng to Norbu, the Dalar Lama's
Cinefile: Tibetan lama Khyentse Norbu
response was gurte approprrate 'When he heard that the monks were makrng a rrrovre, he laughed a lot
The Cup opens Sun 26 Dec. See review. Chokling Monastery provides shelter and education for a continuous stream of Tibetan refugees. Consequently, Chokling is extremely short of funds. If you wish to make a donation contact Patrick Jacquelin on 0181 964 1366, or post a cheque, made payable to The Chokling Monastery Project, to The Chokling Monastery Project, 89-91 Scrubs Lane, London NW10 GQU.
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