ENFF: ROMANI STORIES BY ROMANI DIRECTORS
(De)constructing the representation of Romani people in Eastern European cinema
In 1971, an important historical meeting took place near London – The first Romani congress where the Romani nation got officially recognized. Representatives of 23 countries participated in this mile-stone meeting at which five commissions were created to examine social affairs, war crimes, education, language, and culture. Romani people got their flag and Opre Roma (Up, Roma) became an official motto, while the famous song Gelem, Gelem (I went, I went) by the Romani musician from Serbia Zarko Jovanovic got accepted as the official anthem. However, 50 years later, the largest minority group of Europe that counts more than 12 million people, is still facing injustice, extreme poverty, and segregation. The antigypsyism trend got even stronger lately in some (eastern)European countries.
The ENFF is thus joining forces with the Romedia Foundation in mobilizing Roma film to deconstruct the historically constructed, stigmatizing image of Roma, in public and cultural discourses, and to promote new narratives and forms of visual representation. In our program of fiction feature films, documentaries, shorts, and animations, we attempt to show films that deal with the Romani community and are directed/written/produced by Roma film makers. Their films highlight themes such as freedom, political and personal identity, fears, dreams and hopes of the nation that for centuries felt unsettled and unwelcome in so many countries in the world. Knowledge is the best tool to facilitate understanding of other people and our program opens a window to the audience in The Netherlands to get to know Roma culture beyond the cliches by giving a voice to Romani film makers from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia. Most of the film directors in this program are women, pro-active in societies where they live, lucid and thought provoking in their artistic work.
HOW I BECAME A PARTISAN (DUTCH PREMIÉRE)
Director: Vera Lackova
Cinematic resistance against oblivion. A must-see documentary about the Sinti and Roma victims of the Holocaust in WWII Slovakia. Documenting her own family history and the heroic and dramatic life of her great grandfather, the Roma director Vera Lackova sheds light onto an aspect of the Slovak history during the Nazis which is rarely discussed: the Roma resistance.
As an added bonus there will be a Q&A with the director of the film.
HOW FAR THE STARS
Director: Katalin Barsony
There are not many film directors of Roma origin in the European film industry. The great Hungarian talent Katalin Barsony has competently brought a compelling story of a Roma musician Jozsef Balazs to the screen, who devoted his life to jazz music. His dream is to succeed in America, in the home of jazz, and to escape poverty. Amazing Balazs starts collaboration with the Rolling Stones sidemen and saxophonist Tim Ries.
1. LETTER OF FORGIVENESS (DUTCH PREMIÉRE)
Director: Alina Serban
Based on a real story of slavery from the 1800s, this period drama set in Walachia (a territory of present-day Romania) gives us a compelling look into the Roma slavery in the past, a topic rarely discussed in cinema. Directed by well-known Romanian actress Alina Serban who also performs in the film.
2. GYPSY TALES: DOJA THE GYPSY FAIRY (DUTCH PREMIÉRE)
Director: Maria Horvath
“I have lived one hundred years, but never would I have thought that someday we would have a land of our own”, speaks a Roma character in the film. Her words encompass the “bitter fate” of the Roma community, the motif of their wandering through the world: remaining scattered, hoping to find one another.
Doja the Gypsy Fairy illustrates the poverty and exclusion that Roma face. While they are dreaming about their own land, a Roma fairy gracefully strolls down a rainbow to be amongst her community and help them. Clinging to her long, jet-black hair, they fly with her to a wondrous island where they can build the Romani land in freedom and live happily in peace. But then, one day, terrible monsters attack the village.
GIPSY QUEEN (DUTCH PREMIÉRE)
Director: Huseyin Tabak
The brilliant Romanian-Romani actress Alina Serban and the extremely gifted director Huseyin Tabak have teamed up to bring a powerful, inspiring boxing story to the big screen. The plot follows a Roma single mom who uses everything she‘s got to provide for her kids. She is determined to give them a good start in life in their new home in a foreign country, Germany, and she’ll have to box her way up to that promise.
Katalin Barsony, executive director of the Romedia Foundation, film director and producer, whose latest documentary How far the stars we screen in program, will give a masterclass:
Alter Image – Romani Representation in the XXI century
“In nearly a century, there has been a considerable leap in how the Romani people are represented, as well as the role of Roma in film production and modes of self-representation on screen. Departing from the stereotype of the freedom- and nature-loving, the wild Romani stranger was possible by providing space for Roma participants, “citizens”, to express their own identity, history, and living conditions through film. This, in turn, made the movie screen a platform for change and empowerment. Through illustrative examples, this lecture discusses a glimpse of this ongoing walk towards equality.”
TRAILER FOR THE WHOLE SERIES: