The Cup

Director: Khyentse Norbu
Screenwriters: Khyentse Norbu

Institute History

  • 2000 Sundance Film Festival


Set in a Tibetan refugee settlement in India built around Chokling Monastery, and filmed mostly with actors from within its walls, The Cup explores the collision between ancient and modern with stunning cinematography and great humor. In this story based on actual events preceding the World Cup, soccer fever is on the rise among the younger monks, and sports posters share dorm-room walls with images of the Buddha. On the night of the semifinals, Orygen, an irrepressible fourteen-year-old, and three followers escape from the monastery to watch the match in a local shop. Caught on their way back by Geko, the order’s chief disciplinarian, they face expulsion, but after consultation with the abbot, they are instead grounded and sentenced to kitchen duty. Curious about why two nations are fighting for a ballot one in the morning, the abbot is even more amused when he learns that the victory prize is a mere cup. But neither the abbot’s wisdom nor Geko’s strict rules are equal to the initiative, ingenuity, and stubborn determination of young boys to see a championship match. Orygen devises a new scheme, this time involving the whole monastery. In a hilarious rush of activity and resourcefulness, the monks prepare for the big night and the story’s climax. Interviewed on the seemingly incongruous relationship between football and religion, director Khyentse Norbu, recognized at age six as the incarnation of the nineteenth-century Tibetan saint Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, replied, “The monastic ideal is a goal to be hit.”

— Nicole Guillemet

Screening Details

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