Documentary films by Roma about Roma screen in Vienna
How can one make a film about coexistence between non-Romani and Romani people without supporting prejudices or stereotypes and without participating in the classic division of people into good and evil, culprits and victims? Such a task might seem hard even for experienced filmmakers, but Romani filmmakers from several different European countries evidently seem to have risen to the challenge.
The short documentary films by Romani directors were screened all together for the first time at Wien Museum Karlsplatz as part of an exhibition called "Romane Thana. Places of the Roma and Sinti". The six films selected for the program from the "Europe - A Homeland for the Roma" project were screened in collaboration with the Erste Stiftung foundation and the Transitions Online organization on 10 and 11 March.
Romani directors from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia presented films that reflect the events going on around them, the everyday and the extraordinary lives of Romani people, failures and positive role models, and historical events that still cast a shadow on the contemporary lives of Romani people to this day. Two short films were chosen to represent the Czech Republic, "Because There is Hope" (Protože je naděje) and "Shadows of the Romani Holocaust" (Stíny romského holokaustu).
While the first of these films is, as its title suggests, a positive one, the second engenders a sense of hopelessness while raising questions. In the first film, Romani filmmakers František Bikár, Vera Lacková, Martin Grinvalský and Adéla Zicháčková have captured the image of a Romani man doing his best to "nurture our young Roma" in a genuinely unusual way.
The film's protagonist, Jožka Miker, supports a group of Romani youth with a taste for rapping, positively supporting their future paths. The boys do not have easy lives because they live in a place that is excluded both socially and spatially, which does not give them much of an opportunity for a good start, but they have no lack of spirit and a thirst to move forward.
"Shadows of the Romani Holocaust" tells the story of the site of the former "gypsy camp" at Lety by Písek, which was created during the Second World War. Today an industrial pig farm stands on the site.
Relatives of the victims and survivors of the camp view the presence of the farm on this site as incomprehensible and very painful - although a memorial to the Romani Holocaust has been erected to mark a mass grave site where some victims of the camp were buried, they consider the stench of the pigs that travels to the memorial from the site of the former camp to be dishonorable. The Czech Government, however, is not inclined to move the farm.
"Shadows of the Romani Holocaust" was made under the direction of producer Kelly Whalen from the University of Miami and Renata Berkyová. All of the documentary films from the five countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia) were created as part of the "Europe: A Homeland for the Roma" project, in which the ROMEA public benefit corporation was also involved.
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