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July 6, 2022

 

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England: Documentary film Pongo Calling, about Romani émigrés from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, premieres tomorrow at DocFest

23.6.2022 7:20
The family of the late Mr. Štefan Pongo. (PHOTO: https://dokweb.net/)
The family of the late Mr. Štefan Pongo. (PHOTO: https://dokweb.net/)

The documentary film "Pongo Calling", which follows how Romani people from the Czech Republic who emigrate to Great Britain live there over the course of several years, will premiere tomorrow, 24 June, at the DocFest international documentary film festival in Sheffield, England; the director, Tomáš Kratochvíl, has captured how a family of Romani people becomes part of English society. "I was wondering what life is like for the Romani people who have been emigrating to Great Britain, so I went there and found the truck driver Štefan Pongo and his big, fabulous family," Kratochvíl told news server Romea.cz.

"During the five years that we were filming I became somewhat of a family member myself," the director said. Mr Štefan Pongo, the central character of the documentary, was an activist who did his best to change the negative image held by non-Romani people about the Romani community.

Viewers will see the campaign Mr. Pongo led against Czech President Miloš Zeman, during which Romani people reacted to Zeman's racist remarks that Romani people "do not work" by flooding social media with selfies of themselves at their jobs. Viewers will also be able to follow the establishment of the Czechoslovak Romani Union and all of the activities Mr. Pongo was involved with, almost always from within the cabin of his long haul truck.

Mr. Pongo was also a father and a husband, and the film reveals how the family household ran on a daily basis, using a format that is frequently quite funny, and how his activism not only influenced the family, but also bonded them together. "As we were completing the film, Štefan the trucker succumbed to a disease and passed away," Kratochvíl told Romea.cz.

"His children are now taking up their Dad's cause," the director said. The documentary is a British/Czech/Slovak coproduction and will be screened on Friday, 24 June, Saturday 25 June and Tuesday, 28 June at the Sheffield DocFest.

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Renata Kováčová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Culture, documentary film, Festival, freedom



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