Descendants of Romani victims of the Holocaust and Czech experts discuss commemoration after screening of documentary "LETY"
To mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the documentary film "LETY" was screened at the Bio OKO cinema in the Letná neighborhood of Prague. The film is about the circumstances of the buyout of the industrial-scale pig farm that was in operation for decades on the location of the former concentration camp at Lety u Písku and the decades of the struggle for the dignified commemoration of Holocaust victims of Romani origin.
After the screening there was a discussion panel featuring Romani activist Čeněk Růžička, director of the Museum of Romani Culture Jana Horváthová, historian at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes Čeněk Pýcha, and the head of Romani Studies at Charles University, Helena Sadílková. Roughly 150 people attended.
Audience members had the opportunity to ask questions not just of the panelists, but also of the three producers of the film from ROMEA TV, Renata Berkyová, František Bikár and Viola Tokárová. The panelists commented, among other matters, on their views as to what makes a dignified remembrance site or whether they perceive, for example, a shift in the perception of the genocide of the Roma during World War II when working with youth in the Czech Republic today.
Jana Horváthová and Čeněk Růžička shared their experiences with the audience about how their own families coped, if at all, with their loved ones having been murdered in the concentration camps. The documentary covers milestones in more than 20 years of efforts by many individuals and organizations to achieve dignified remembrance at this site associated with the Holocaust of the Roma and reveals heretofore unknown facts about the protagonists of that struggle and the process itself.
The documentary tells the story of Romani activist Čeněk Růžička and also describes the feelings of Romani survivors of the Holocaust who, even during a politically free regime, have had to endure the unwillingness of the country's inhabitants and political leaders to remove the foul-smelling industrial pig farm from the place where their ancestors died. The farm has therefore become a symbol of the Czech inability to cope with their own share of the blame for the genocide of the Roma.
The documentary contains a great deal of unique archival footage and original material and was produced by Renata Berkyová, František Bikár and Viola Tokárová for ROMEA TV. It was premiered on 23 October 2019 at Prague's Kino Pilotů.
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