Football in the Himalayas

March 26, 2015

North West Theatre Company Film Club has a treat in store for movie lovers on Sunday with the screening of another terrific foreign film – this time the first feature film ever made in Bhutan. “The Cup” is a 1999 film directed by Khyentse Norbu, a Tibetan Lama who wanted to make a movie so badly that he attended a Film School in New York.

The movie was shot entirely in the Tibetan refugee village of Bir in India, between Chokling Gompa and Elu Road, and the plot involves two football crazed Tibetan novice monks in a remote Himalayan monastery in India who desperately try to obtain a television set and satellite dish for the monastery to watch the 1998 Soccer World Cup final.

There are some wonderful characters in the film. Even though he is the head of the Monastery, the Abbot has his bags packed in the forlorn dream of returning to his beloved homeland Tibet, now occupied by the Chinese. His senior monk Geko, largely responsible for order and discipline within the monastery, is involved in a constant battle of wits with several young monks who are obsessed with soccer. Two of them, Orgyen and his best friend Lodo, even sneak off to watch games televised in the local village. When the two young monks learn that the World Cup final between France and Brazil is to be broadcast, they ask permission to rent a satellite dish. Much to their surprise they get the go-ahead, and their adventure for the big evening gets underway.

“The Cup” is the first feature film made in Bhutan. Its writer and Director Khyentse Norbu is a prominent lama in the Tibetan Bhuddist tradition who served as spiritual advisor to Bernado Bertolucci on the set of “Little Budda”. Inspired by true events, this endearing drama is a playful parable about loving others and giving up one’s attachments, and how the traditional “old” meets the emerging “new”.

“The Cup” was released to DVD in 2007 in America, and has since been sold all over the world. I was fortunate enough to see the film during its original film season in Australia at Sydney’s Dendy Theatre, and was charmed by its warmth. On “The Movie Show”, David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz gave the film 4 stars and commented “The Cup is utterly charming, and nobody could not like this film. It is beautiful”.
“The Cup” runs for 93 minutes and is rated G for the whole family.

Film Club membership continues to grow, and currently stands at 28. Its easy to join, and this can be done before the film commences on Sunday at 4pm. Ten films remain in the 2015 season, and members subscriptions now stand at $54 for the whole year.
See you at the movies!

Contributed by John Wearne