Release Date: 2 December 2011
The Roma people (also referred to as “Gypsies”, “Romanis” or “Roms”) are an ethnic group believed to have migrated from the Indian Subcontinent about 1000 years ago. They have wandered and dispersed all across Europe and have lived there for hundreds of years, yet they have never quite assimilated into society. They are subject to racism and controversies in most of the countries they live in. Several European governments have spent a lot of money to implement schemes to help the Romas assimilate, but without great success. The Romas mostly remain on the outskirts of society; they comprise a distrusted minority, and they are often overrepresented among the poor and unemployed. The word “Gypsy” is used as a derogatory term or a swear word in many European languages.
In the upcoming documentary “I am a Roma” we want to contrast the lives of three Romas who are on very different paths, in order to find out if a Roma who assimilates is still considered a true Roma – by other Roma people, and by the rest of society. We tell the story of three men who are all of Roma heritage – two leading a traditional life in Roma villages in Slovakia, the other studying at a university in Slovakia’s second largest city, Kosice, and adapting to a more “mainstream” and modern lifestyle. The overarching question is what it really means to be a Roma, and by finding an answer to that, we also touch upon the question of why the Romas have remained on the outskirts for so long.