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Gypsy documentaries - Film When the Road Bends, Tales of a Gypsy Caravan - World Music Documentary Film
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09/25/2008

Gypsy Caravan in UNAFF @ New York Film Academy

Friday night may have been a bit damp and grey, but it was very sparkly at the United Nations Association Traveling Film Festival, where Romani speakers Saniye Jašaroska and George Eli led a lively debate after our film. Skye took some notes...




George Eli introduced the movie and invited the audience to not only enjoy the wonderful music, but to see the connection between the Romani people from different countries.

Q & A:
     An animated exchange turned to the idea of  oppression:  is it an internalised phenomenon, a view George appeared to espouse, or applied from external sources with discrimination in access to proper healthcare, education etc, as Saniye suggested? Our host Jasmina Bojić asked if the problem stems from the political system, and Saniye replied with personal examples of discrimination: being kicked out of a restaurant in Macedonia, a sister growing up in Macedonia forced to sit in the back of her classroom for being Rom/Gypsy.
     George used this example to explain his view that in America, oppression became tradition.  So deeply has discrimination been internalised, he argued, that the experience of being thrown out of a restaurant would not only be accepted but taken as being right:  the Romani person would have felt that he or she should not have been there anyway.

What's In a Name?
     There's much talk of the words "Gypsy" vs "Roma" - is there a preference or are they interchangeable?  Saniye talked about the origins of some of the well-known labels used for Roma - most of them coming from misconceptions or prejudice.  George made an important observation that any time a group is named by those outside, it becomes derogatory. Although the word Gypsy is used out of ignorance, both he and Saniye agreed that non-Gypsies need to be informed and steered away from the term.
     Maybe it's a question of choice: can I choose my label ("woman" "chick" "Yank" "American"... and we know there are more extreme examples)? Can you choose yours?

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