Portugal: Monty Python star's film blamed for convent damage

AP

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Officials in Portugal said Monday they have ordered an investigation into claims that one of the country's most cherished historic monuments was damaged during the shooting of a film by director and former Monty Python star Terry Gilliam.

The General Directorate for Cultural Heritage said it is looking into a report by public broadcaster RTP that alleged the recent location shoot for "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" left behind chipped masonry, broken roof tiles and uprooted trees at the 12th century Convent of Christ.

RTP aired an investigation based on claims by current and former staffers at the convent in Tomar, in central Portugal, on Friday night.

The convent was a stronghold of the Knights Templar, a Christian military order founded in 1119, and is classified as a world heritage site by the United Nations.

In a post on his Facebook page, Gilliam said the allegations were "ignorant nonsense." He said the convent is "one of the most glorious buildings I have ever seen."

"Everything we did there was to protect the building from harm ... and we succeeded. Trees were not cut down, stones were not broken," Gilliam wrote.

Ukbar Filmes, the Portuguese production company used at the location shooting, acknowledged there was some damage, which it said was catalogued by the convent officials who monitored the filming.

The damage included six modern roof tiles and four small chips in masonry, which will be restored, Ukbar Filmes said in a statement sent to the Associated Press.

The company said the trees were planted during the making of another film and that convent officials consented to their removal at the end of the shoot.

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