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05/28/2007

Krakow - Vania de Gila-Kochanowski (1906-2007)

Our film will soon be playing in the Krakow Film Festival and I’d like to make a special tribute to an impressive Romani man who was born in that city in 1906 and whose life’s achievements take my breath away. Jan Kochanowski (aka Vania de Gila) died on May 18, leaving behind one son who is a General in the French Air Force and another son who is a choreographer of the National ballet of Gabon. I can’t do justice to the summary I just read of this man’s life in an obituary (LINK) but Vania began life with his mother’s nomadic Latvian clan wandering from Poland to Biolerussia until age 9. His father died in the military defending Smolensk in 1942. Vania lost half of his family in WW2, he escaped twice himself and joined the Resistance. Eventually settling in France, Vania became a scholar, earned two PhD’s and wrote important books on sociology, anthropology, linguistics and Roma. He founded Romani activist societies and travelled the world representing his people from Paris to Delhi to UNESCO (bringing scholarship and dancing to most gatherings).

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