Jan Yoors was born in Belgium in 1922 and grew up an only child of a prominent artist and human rights activist. In 1934, twelve-year-old Jan happened upon a group of Lovari Roma camped near his home in Antwerp, Belgium. After playing with children his own age, he was invited to spend the night. The invitation extended to the next evening, eventually stretching to a period of six months with his adopted Romani kumpania (traveling group). They traveled throughout Eastern and Western Europe, including Turkey, Poland, Germany, France, Spain, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Hungary.
In 1950, Jan Yoors settled in New York City and became a well-known tapestry artist. Along with filmmaker, Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau, Yoors made a feature-length documentary entitled Only in New York about the city’s ethnic communities, including the 10,000 Roma living in the city. It was released in 1965 with a book of his photographs. Yoors also traveled periodically to maintain contact with the Roma. From the 1950s through the 1970s, Jan took hundreds of additional photographs of Romani life in New York and Europe. His book, The Gypsies of Spain (1974), was the result of those travels. Jan died on November 27, 1977, at the age of fifty-five. This film celebrates his visual legacy of a vanished world.