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Join the open letter to the Board of Czech Television on the depiction of Romani people

Prague, 9.11.2013 19:07, (ROMEA)

Documentary filmmaker Lukáš Senft, who has previously written an open letter to the creators of the "Sanitka 2" television serial, has decided to contact the Board of Czech Television about his concerns. "I would like to know:  Will Czech Television soon be taking a clear, decisive step toward more fair and socially sensitive productions that will present the complexity of our world through the language of images in a way that does not simplify or trivialize it, but that reveals contexts, carefully making and analyzing important connections?" Senft writes in his open letter.

News server Romea.cz presents the open letter in full translation below. Those who wish to sign on to the letter can either post their name, profession and address into the comment section below or can send it to the author's email address, lukassenft@seznam.cz :     

Dear Board of Czech Television, Dear Mr Uhde, Board Chair,

I am writing to you about the problematic way in which the Romani minority is being depicted in the serial "Sanitka 2". The sequences in which the Romani way of life is one of the stronger themes are conveyed through a prejudicial discourse (please see my previous open letter to the producers), featuring overused clichés that help form an image of Romani people as a dangerous, foreign, wild minority, a false image which today is often being used as an argument during anti-Romani marches. 

Those marches very often end with a call for Romani people to be lynched. Our domestic intelligence services have also published information about the current radicalization of Czech society and the long-term frustration which could easily escalate in the form of extremist assaults.

The creators of "Sanitka 2" have turned away from our current social context and have made the ill-judged move of corroborating these mendacious media images of Romani people with yet another cliché depiction. This kind of construction of prejudices can easily become a dangerous impulse for further irritating the tense situation in which society finds itself and could lead to exacerbated or even tragic results.

This is why I first wrote an open letter to Messrs Hubač and Renč. In that letter, I explained my concerns to them. 

I emphasized that every filmmaker bears responsibility for the ethics and morality conveyed by his work. I asked the authors for a statement of accountability for this unprofessional toying with the socially exacerbated moods of their viewers, and indirectly with society as a whole.        

Filip Renč has responded to my letter only through the media and Mr Hubač has not responded at all. In his statement, the director has not taken into account the dangerous consequences his serial depiction of the Romani community might have. 

I asked your Audience Center to send my letter to both authors. Instead of a dialogue being facilitated, I received, as a reply, a link to news server Novinky.cz, where Renč's statement on the issue had been published as part of an article about my open letter. 

For the sake of completion, here is the link to the text of the open letter describing and justifying my objections to the serial and the requests I made of its creators (http://www.romea.cz/en/news/czech/open-letter-to-the-writers-of-the-czech-television-serial-sanitka-2). Because neither the producers nor the Audience Center have been able to facilitate a satisfactory statement in the form of a dialogue, I am now turning to you. 

I would like to know what Czech Television's stance is on such a disturbing error as this construction of a prejudicial overview of Romani people? I think it is not wise to underestimate the power of such images, especially those supported by marketing and a prime-time slot on Friday evenings.

I am convinced that producers (especially at a public broadcasting station) should be able to detect the tendencies in society with sensitivity. If society is tending towards ostracizing this or that minority because of simplified stereotypes, artists should be the ones to disrupt such notions and query them. 

Artists should ameliorate such desires in the majority society and prevent their growing into a more aggressive phase. They should be mediators, working for mutual comprehension of difference, facilitators of social plurality - a plurality shown not as a retrograde, threatening invention, but as an enriching, fair, and natural principle on which European culture is based.

I would like to know:  Will Czech Television soon be taking a clear, decisive step toward more fair and socially sensitive productions that will present the complexity of our world through the language of images in a way that does not simplify or trivialize it, but that reveals contexts, carefully making and analyzing important connections?

Sincerely and with thanks,

Lukáš Senft, documentary filmmaker, Stříbrná Skalice

Readers can add their signatures to this letter - post your name, profession and address either in the comment section below or send it by e-mail to the author at lukassenft@seznam.cz


Lukáš Senft, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Česká televize, Média, Racism, otevřený dopis, open letter



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