Rome fest to go ahead with special Tibet focus

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ROME -- China's crackdown on Tibet will not have an impact on the RomaCinemaFest's plans to focus a special sidebar on the Asian region, festival president Goffredo Bettini said Wednesday, though it is unclear whether the Dalai Lama will be able to attend the sidebar as original announced.

Bettini said that plans are to go ahead with the sidebar as announced in December, even though it will be much more sensitive politically in the wake of China's bloody crackdown on political dissidents in the region.

The Dalai Lama's attendance is no longer a sure thing, however. Though the festival said he is still invited to the festival and said the sidebar would go on regardless of whether the Dalai Lama attends, the spiritual leader of Tibet's government in exile and Nobel Laureate has become embroiled in controversy as the Chinese government accused him of being behind the protests in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. He has threatened to resign if a peaceful solution is not reached.

Rome's plans to focus on Tibet drew some minor complaints from the Chinese embassy in Rome when the sidebar was first announced.

If he attends, the Dalai Lama will join a long list of internationally recognized celebrities to have been associated with the young Rome festival, including Sophia Loren, Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, Robert Redford, Tom Cruise, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese.

The third edition of the RomaCinemaFest will take place Oct. 22-31 this year.
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