While watching Me, My Gypsy Family and Woody Allen at One World Human Rights Film Fest last month, I realized that I had seen several films about the Roma but none made from an insider’s perspective. I also realized I really didn’t know any other Roma directors. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised at what 19-year-old Laura Halilovic inventively weaved together about her family and culture along with the discrimination they’ve endured.
“Many films and documentaries have been made about our tradition and our way of living,” Halilovic said, “but in such a way that we can never really identify ourselves with it. Directors and scriptwriters still show the world of Gypsies through stereotypes. They ignore that some of us don’t even “look like Roma people,” and that many who still live as nomads would love to have a public housing apartment and to send their children to school.”
“People are still afraid, they don’t trust us. They turn away as soon as they hear the word Gypsy. That makes us feel rejected in a country which is not our own, in which we are trying to build a future.”
The film is raw and compassionate yet shot with an acute and refreshing eye. Viewers get an intimate portrait of the director’s family and friends and even those who despise their presence. Since she was nine she knew she wanted to make films and even told her parents she wanted to become Woody Allen. Ten years later, she has succeeded in creating a prize winning feature. This documentary won the UCCA Prize 2009 at the Bellaria Film Festival in Italy and is scheduled to screen at the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival in Australia this May.