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Tuesday, May 18, 1999 Published at 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK


Soccer monks score at Cannes

Ronaldo and Yuri Djorkaeff attend the screening of Felicia's Journey

A film about Tibetan monks and last year's football World Cup has become a surprise hit at the Cannes Film Festival.

Tibetan lama Khyentse Norbu has impressed critics with his directorial debut, The Cup, which tells the story about a group of monks desperate to watch the competition's deciding clash between France and Brazil on television.

Shown as part of the Director's Fortnight line-up, it has been tipped to win the Golden Camera award for first-time directors.

Filmed at the Chockling Monastery in the foothills of the Himalayas, The Cup was inspired by real events, said 37-year-old Norbu, who is in exile from Tibet.

"Maybe my film is kind of unusual because in places like Bhutan and Tibet, making films is not popular - especially not by a lama," he said.

"I'm supposed to be sitting in a cave meditating or on a throne teaching people."

Most of the actors in The Cup play their real-life roles, including Jamyang Lodro, 14-year-old football-mad monk.

Soccer stars in Cannes

[ image: Hollywood backing: Mel Gibson arrives at the Felicia's Journey premiere]
Hollywood backing: Mel Gibson arrives at the Felicia's Journey premiere
In the film, he roots for the victorious French side. But in reality, Brazillian superstar Ronaldo was his hero.

When asked to give his impressions of Cannes, he said: "There are many beautiful shops, but there is not enough football on TV."

Ronaldo himself was in Cannes on Monday - arriving with Brazillian team-mate Leonardo and French player Yuri Djorkaeff for the premiere of Felicia's Journey, starring Bob Hoskins.

Hoskins was not at the launch of Felicia's Journey, but the film's Canadian director Atom Egoyan and actresses Elaine Cassidy and Arsinee Meneur attended the viewing. Mel Gibson also turned up to add Hollywood weight to the film, which he co-produced.

The film is one of the 22 in competition for Cannes' top prize, the Palme d'Or.

Balkan directors have their say

On Tuesday Bosnian director Jasmin Dizdar unveiled his film Beautiful People which transfers the horrors of the Bosnian war to London, thanks to a chance meeting on a bus between a Serb and a Croat.

He got the idea for the film in 1994, while watching the conflict on television in London, where he had gained British citizenship through his wife. He left Bosnia in 1983 to study film-making.

"I was watching the destruction of my homeland on a television screen and I was split between my family and my home or my new home and and my real home.

"It was strange sitting with English people at the dinner table and watching others on television being being blown up in a market place while I was being asked to pass the gravy or the salt," he said.

Meanwhile, Belgrade director Srdjan Karanovic told festival-goers that Nato's air strikes are destroying Yugoslavia's film industry.

In a letter to published in the festival's daily newspaper, he wrote: "The festival seems so far away. Not only because all Yugoslav film-makers, directors and actors are focused on survival, but also because we are positive that bombs and missiles have already destroyed the hopes for many films in different stages of pre-production."

An Ideal Husband star stunned

[ image: David Mamet: The Winslow Boy had a rapturous reception]
David Mamet: The Winslow Boy had a rapturous reception
British actor Jeremy Northam, currently starring in An Ideal Husband, is also under the Cannes spotlight.

He was left stunned after a screening of his latest film, The Winslow Bow, received wild applause from a standing-room only audience.

"I am absolutely thrilled... dumbfounded. I've never been to a show with an audience quite like this."

The Winslow Boy, which is showing out of competition, is director David Mamet's sixth film and is based on Terrence Rattigan's play.

Northam had better get used to the reception - An Ideal Husband, which also stars Cate Blanchett, Rupert Everett and Minnie Driver, will be the festival's closing night film.

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