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January 18, 2022



Romani actor to appear in latest installment of antigypsyist Czech film series made by former 'special school' teacher

22.11.2020 7:24
Zdeněk Godla (PHOTO:  still taken from the Jan Kraus Show on FTV Prima, Wikimedia Commons)
Zdeněk Godla (PHOTO: still taken from the Jan Kraus Show on FTV Prima, Wikimedia Commons)

The actor and Romani community member Zdeněk Godla has signed a contract to play the main character in the continuation of the "Bastards" (Bastardi) film series directed by Tomáš Magnusek. The infamous series tells stories in which bad Romani characters cause white people to suffer. 

In the previous installments of "Bastards", characters who are Romani children are depicted as criminals who victimize characters who are white children. A schoolteacher addresses the behavior of "the bad guys" by committing violence against them - specifically, murder, which is of course performed out of a sense of helplessness in the very primitively-conceived script.

This fourth instalment of "Bastards" will be, according to the producers, most like the first film in the series from 2010 and also promises to be more of a comedy, although the predominant type of humor, they say, will be "more on the rough side, even sarcastic". The central duo will be played by Godla and Magnusek himself. 

"I'm very glad Zdeněk has agreed to do the role. In the mini-series 'School of My Life' [Škola mého života] that we produced I confirmed that he comes prepared and is fair and attentive," Magnusek told the Czech daily

"Tomáš and I get along brilliantly and understand each other. He gives the actors room, which is important! He doesn't pretend to be something he's not and it's a lot of fun with him," Godla said of the "Bastards" project, which will be released in the winter of 2021.

Magnusek rejects the idea that his films are racist. He claims he has very friendly relationships with members of the Romani community to this day and tells his interviewer with a smile that his wife is half-Roma. 

Film critic Kamil Fila sees this differently, though. His first reaction to Magnusek's series was published in 2012 in RESPEKT magazine with the title "The third Bastardi no longer fears being openly racist".

In addition to other observations, Fila wrote the following:  "Bastardi actually seems chiefly to be the work of somebody who no longer wants to be humiliated himself and who wants to transfer the anger or the abhorrence he has received from those around him onto somebody else. He even offers us a solution - to escort problems out of this world through violence. Again an argument occurs that may strike below the belt, but that saves the day from a certain perspective: In Magnusek's case, after all, nobody would ever believe he would be able to perform physically demanding tasks, so it's not worth anyone's effort to sue him for disseminating hatred against a group because his anti-gypsy propaganda is so unbelievable... The audience who is satisified by Bastardi gives themselves a dose of fighting courage by watching it - "Let's cleanse Czechia of gypsies" - while the mockers, on the other hand, say: "That Magnusek will never be anything but a fat guy who can't even do a single push-up, so what's he playing at?" Neither attitude is fair, because both take down easy targets. Be that as it may, Bastardi 3 does yield one positive piece of news to report about the constantly-growing atmosphere of hatred in this society: Just like the absolutely openly extremist political parties here, the film producers who are beefing up the latent racism in this society are all just losers who essentially don't know the basic craft of their chosen profession."

The review of "Bastardi 3" authored by Markéta Rajotová for at that same time also reviews the racism featured in the online discussions about the film, which flow from the movie's own racism:  "The producers defend themselves fiercely against accusations that the film sounds racist and their opinions are racist; however, their arguments are weak; the fact that Magnusek taught at a 'special school' and that his wife is allegedly half-Roma, presented as a would-be absence of racist - more precisely, antigypsyist - thinking, are not enough. We will be best convinced of this with the aid of the biblical saying 'By their fruits ye shall know them':  The number and the content of the antigypsyist posts made to the online discussion of the film are astounding; proposals to destroy all members of this ethnicity across the board are not lacking there (and many opinions expressing agreement with that idea). On the most popular scene from the film is the one where the character of the teacher, Majer, manages to ridicule a Romani father."    

fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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