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Czech film on Romany ghetto to compete at Berlin TV festival

Prague, 22.8.2007 18:32

Czech documentary Ghetto No.1 by Ivan Pokorny about the Chanov Romany housing estate in Most, north Bohemia, was selected for the competition at the prestigious Prix Europa TV festival in Berlin to be held on October 13-20, producer Pavel Melounek told CTK today.

The film, shot in Czech-German coproduction, will compete in two categories - among documentary films and multicultural projects.

"The international documentary film festivals in the Netherlands, Sweden and Poland have also expressed interest in the film. And most recently the U.S. distributor Arsenal Pictures," Melounek said.

In the spring ,Pokorny's documentary was released on DVD by the Bontonfilm company that is preparing its screenings at Czech schools. In December, the film will be shown on public Czech Television (CT), Melounek added.

The Chanov settlement, inhabited only by Romanies, is ill-famed for its extremely high crime rate and 95-percent unemployment. A high number of its inhabitants are rent-defaulters who owe a total of 80 million crowns in rent.

"This is a real Romany ghetto, but at the same time the synonym of helplessness and impotence as well as a mixture of hypocrisy and well-intended efforts to solve the so-called Romany problem. Our nightmare, feeling of remorse and bad conscience, but also ignorance, aggression and a stalemate," Pokorny commented on Chanov during his film's screening in Prague.

He said he wants neither to blame anyone for the situation nor offer secure solutions. His shots from Chanov speak without words and let people see behind "one invisible, but painfully sensitive border in the heart of the border-free Europe," said Pokorny, who is also a scriptwriter, photographer, sound-mixer and producer of the documentary.

Pokorny noted he hopes his film could contribute to the permanently vivid discussion on the cohabitation of Romanies and the majority society.

Ghetto No.1 was premiered abroad in Slovakia within the Slovak part of the 2007 Febiofest International Film, TV and Video Festival. It was also presented at the International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary, west Bohemia, and at International Film Festival for Children and Youth in Zlin, south Moravia, this year.

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