Czech director defends his depiction of Romani people in tv serial
Lukáš Senft, a documentary filmmaker and student at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague has written an open letter to the creators of the television serial "Sanitka 2", screenwriter Ivan Hubač and director Filip Renč. In his letter, which was also published by news server Romea.cz, Senft takes the serial's creators to task for lying about Romani people and depicting them as a bloodthirsty, dangerous, foreign and incomprehensible minority.
Senft warns in his letter of rising tensions in Europe which could be easily taken out against any minority because of such mendacious depictions in the media. Renč, of course, is now defending the eighth episode of "Sanitka 2" and claiming it is a fair depiction of the Romani community.
Renč sees nothing wrong with the way his work is presenting Romani people. "The screenplay has been written and that's how I've filmed it. It's not racist, because we are showing that the Romani community solves its own problems internally. We depict many different kinds of dramatic situations throughout the serial. We show drug addicts, white criminals, and crime committed by Romani people is just one of the problems," Renč told news server Týden.cz.
Renč told news server Novinky.cz just what he means by the Romani community "solving its own problems": "It's about two Roma who rob a blind lady, who then dies. This is then handled inside the Romani community. Those two get whipped because what they have done is against Romani ethics," Renč said, adding that he would film the episode again in exactly the same way.
"I wouldn't change a single shot. Mr Documentary can complain to himself for all I care," the director said.
When asked by Týden.cz whether he felt he had made an error in depicting the Romani community as bloodthirsty, Renč said he did not. "What is obvious in the serial is that, in our view, the Roma are full of character. Some of them broke the rules, so their vajda is punishing them. We have depicted them as just. The scenes with Romani people are not the only dramatic ones in the serial, we have all kinds of other drama going on. Of course, if someone were to claim to me that no Romani people have ever stolen anything at any time, then that's not true. Everyone steals, black and white. We just wanted to film something truthfully," the director said.
Senft believes the depiction of Romani people in "Sanitka 2" is distorted, naive, and simply abets stereotypes of the Romani minority as dangerous and foreign. "I think every filmmaker is responsible for the ideological and moral corpus of his works. Every filmmaker is responsible for the ethics and the intellectual methods communicated by his film. I am unable to grasp why filmmakers are creating media images that represent the Romani minority - even at the cost of outright falsification - as a dangerous, foreign, and incomprehensible group of people. These images are comprised of generalizations, of invented peculiarities, and of prejudices that in the best-case scenario warn the viewer away from us Roma, shutting us behind a curtain of terrifying rumors and tales. In the worst-case scenario, they stir up aggressive paranoia and bitterness about us," he writes in his open letter (available here: http://www.romea.cz/en/news/czech/open-letter-to-the-writers-of-the-czech-television-serial-sanitka-2).
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