Dalai Lama to attend Rome festival

Event devotes day to Tibet

ROME — The Dalai Lama is expected to attend a Rome Film Festival tribute to Tibet, featuring classic pro-Tibetan docudrama “Windhorse” and including previously unseen works by Tibetan directors.

Rome’s Tibet Day scheduled ahead of the fest on Oct. 8 is being organized by leftist pol Goffredo Bettini, the fest’s former prexy, who told La Repubblica that Tibet’s spiritual leader has agreed to attend, as also confirmed to Daily Variety on Thursday by a Rome fest rep.

Bettini said the tribute in Rome’s Auditorium Theater will be an opportunity to learn about Tibetan culture through cinema and a chance to “fight for Tibet and for its freedom,” making the occasion potentially politically inflammatory.

The announcement of the Dalai Lama’s trek to Rome in October comes one day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on Thursday sparked protests from European pols and human rights activists, claiming it undermines EU efforts to pressure China on human rights and Tibet.

So far Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has likewise said he is likely to attend the ceremony, while British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he will skip the opener but attend the closer, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to stay away.

Besides U.S. helmer Paul Wagner’s 1998 “Windhorse,” about the Tibetan resistance movement and clandestinely shot there, which prompted protests from China, the Rome fest’s tribute to Tibet will include Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1993 Keanu Reeves starrer “Little Buddha,” followed by a meeting between Bertolucci and the Dalai Lama, and also works by Tibetan helmers that are either new or uncirculated.

The Tibet Day will be a prelude to the third edition of the Rome Film Festival, currently undergoing some structural changes, which will run Oct. 22-31.

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