Tibetan tales of fantasy and footballâ
In the cool rinsed foothills of the Himalayas - at the fingertips of the
sprawling, swarming inferno that is India Ă there rests a community of
Tibetan refugees. This is Dharamsala. Temporary residence of the Dalai
Lama. Home to the Tibetan government in exile. Roosting place of a thousand
flocking foreigners - and spotlight of a media surge (that hitâand drained
away, five years ago)âwhen the Richard Geres and Scorceses of this world
made the rest of it aware: Free Tibet. Enter The Cup. Evocative, sharp,
witty life-story of a monastery in Dharamsalaâduring the World Cup. First
film by Tibetan Filmmaker Khyentse Norbu, himself a monk,
Cup uses real monks as its actors and is shot entirely in an actual monastery.
It shreds our Kundun expectations - incense and unwrinkled tranquilly is
replaced by Coca-Cola and fisticuffs. The Portobello film café screening
was hosted by Tibetan Film and Video archives - their premise: to provide
a visual space in which Tibet can articulate itself. But lest ideology eclipse
the artâ One roguish monk-ette (sporting a Reynaldo shirt beneath his orange
robes, his candle-lit shrine a glossy patchwork of penalty kicks) persuades
impressionable monk-friends to join his mission: sneaking, after lights-out,
into town to watch the World-Cup.
On their return, they get whisked away by the scruffs of their necks, and
put on kitchen duty punishment by head-monk; Geko âwho has himself, a surprisingly
intimate knowledge of football mattersâ The Cup is a domestic, humane, film.
The idiosyncrasies of monastic life, laid out for laughs. But the brutality
of Chinese occupation penetrates each frame. Refugees arrive at the monastery,
telling of struggles at the boarder, of violence and suppression in Tibet.
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