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ROMANIES

by Kenji
Click on the green links. Roma flag , Latcho Drom . ~ Romanies (i use that term as preferable to gypsies in the UK, though there are different experiences in different countries as to the least offensive term) are widely portrayed in the media in many countries in very damaging and prejudiced terms, serving to reinforce negative stereotyping and discrimination. The Gwyneth Paltrow film of Jane Austen’s Emma was just the latest i’d seen before doing this list. A relatively small number of films have to varying degrees given fairer, more balanced, sympathetic or even positive representations. But where are the should-be numerous films… Read more

Click on the green links.

Roma flag ,

Latcho Drom .

~

Romanies (i use that term as preferable to gypsies in the UK, though there are different experiences in different countries as to the least offensive term) are widely portrayed in the media in many countries in very damaging and prejudiced terms, serving to reinforce negative stereotyping and discrimination. The Gwyneth Paltrow film of Jane Austen’s Emma was just the latest i’d seen before doing this list. A relatively small number of films have to varying degrees given fairer, more balanced, sympathetic or even positive representations. But where are the should-be numerous films covering the romany genocide in WW2? Holocaust denied, unlamented or even still wished for? Shut your doors, the gypsies are coming- dirty thieves and childsnatchers, to be extinguished like vermin. Tony Gatlif’s Korkoro, which i’ve yet to see, addresses this issue. The excellent Aferim! (2015) centres on romanies as 19th century slaves in Rpmania, only the 2nd Romanian film apparently to deal with that historical reality.

When i see the little girl in the Danses Gitanes filmed in the early 1900s by Alice Guy-Blache i can only wonder at and recoil from the dehumanising media coverage and attitudes, and the horrors many would still like to inflict. Various European governments have meted out harsh and punitive measures evicting romanies. Well done, those who protested- including Jane Birkin and Agnes Jaoui. Sadly, in the UK the mass of the population and media support the racist planning permission decisions and eviction of travellers.

Carmen is a famous and ever popular romany character in films and opera- representations are usually a mix of qualities and stereotyped attributes. Julia Migenes does a good job alongside Placido Domingo in Rosi’s version of the opera. Eldra, about a young romany girl who has a fox for a friend, is among my favourite Welsh films.

Not on this site:

Broken Silence (Galjus, Entrop)
The Gypsies of Svinia (Paskievic)
Satra
Danses Gitanes (Alice Guy)
The False Word (Seybold, Spitta)
Tales from the Endless Roads (Lillqvist)
A Severa (Barros)
Romany Trail
Tân ar y Comin/ Fire on the Common
Queen of the Gypsies
Gypsy Magic (Popov)
Valuri (Sitaru)
Opre Roma: Gypsies in Canada (Papa)
Gypsy Camp Vanishes into the Blue (Loteanu)
Carmen Amaya, Queen of the Gypsies
Danzas Gitanas

recommendations welcome

Pearls of the Deep is a Czechoslovakian portmanteau film with 5 sections, one- Romance (dir: Jires)- involving a young romany woman

In I Even Met Happy Gypsies, certain negative stereotypes were reinforced, even if the intention was not antipathetic. Given the different views expressed on Mubi, I have decided to include it after all. In Borat, the title character’s supposedly Kazakh neighbours and family were romani people in Romania.

~

Federico Garcia Lorca: Ballad of the Spanish Civil Guard

Their horses are black.
Their horseshoes are black.
On their cloaks shine stains
of ink and wax.
They have skulls of lead
and cannot cry.
With their black leather souls
they ride down the road.
Hunchbacked, nocturnal,
where they stir they command
dark rubber silence
and fears of fine sand.
They go where they please,
and hide in their heads
a vague astronomy
of intangible guns.
O city of gypsies!
Banners in your corners!
The moon and the pumpkin
candied with cherries.
O city of gypsies!
Who can forget you?
City of musk and sorrow
with cinnamon towers.

When night fell, night
that makes night night,
the gypsies forged arrows
and suns in their fires.
A dying horse
knocked at every door.
Glass cocks were crowing
along Jérez De La Frontera.
The naked wind turns
the corner of surprise
in the nightsilver night,
night that makes night night.

Saint Joseph and the Virgin
have lost their castanets
and look for the gypsies
to see if they find them.
The Virgin comes dressed
in a duchess’s robe
of tinfoil from chocolates
and almond necklaces.
Saint Joseph swings his arms
beneath a silk cape.
Pedro Dómecq follows
with three Persian sultans.
The half-moon dreamed
a delight of storks.
Banners and lanterns
invade the rooftops.
Hipless ballerinas
sob in their mirrors.

Water and shadow,
shadow and water
along Jérez De La Frontera.
O city of gypsies!
Banners in your corners!
Dim your green lights,
for the Civil Guard comes.
O city of gypsies!
Who can forget you?
Leave her far from the sea,
without combs for her hair.

Two abreast they advance
to the festive city,
a rustle of pines
in their cartridge belts.
Two abreast they advance,
double nocturne of fabric.
The sky takes their fancy,
a showcase for spurs.
The unsuspecting city
multiplied its doors.
Forty Civil Guards
entered them to loot.
The clocks halted
and the bottled brandy
masqueraded as November
to avoid suspicion.
A flight of long shouts
rose in the weathervanes.
The sabers slice breezes
trampled by hooves.
The old gypsies flee
through shadowed streets
with hair fixed for sleep
and crocks of coins.
The sinister cloaks
climb the tilted streets
leaving fugitive whirls
of scissors behind.

The gypsies gather
at Bethlehem’s portal.
Full of wounds, Saint Joseph
shrouds a young maiden.
Sudden sharp rifles
ring through the night.
The Virgin heals children
with spittle from stars.
But the Civil Guard advances,
sowing bonfires.
where imagination burns
young and naked.
Rosa of Camborios
moans on her doorstep,
with her two severed breasts
lying on a platter.
And other girls fled,
pursued for their braids,
through an air where roses
of gunpowder bloomed.

When all the rooftops
were furrows in the ground,
the dawn shrugged its shoulders
in a long stone profile.

O city of gypsies!
The Civil Guard leaves
through a tunnel of silence
while the flames draw near you.
O city of gypsies!
Who can forget you?
Let them seek you in my forehead:
game of moon and sand.

(translation from Spanish)

~

Thomas Prytherch: Gypsy Camp near Merthyr Tydfil

~

Maria Severa Onofriana (1820 – November 30, 1846), also known simply as A Severa, is regarded as the first fado singer to have risen to fame, attaining a near-mythical status after her death.

Maria Severa was born in Lisbon, Portugal in the neighborhood of Madragoa in 1820. She was the daughter of Severo Manuel and Ana Gertrudes. Her mother was the owner of a tavern and had the nickname A Barbuda (“the bearded woman”). Severa is said to have been a tall and gracious prostitute, and would sing the fado in taverns, where she would also play the Portuguese guitar. She is known to have had several lovers, including Francisco de Paula Portugal e Castro, 13th Count of Vimioso, which brought her to attend bullfights (a public and important social event of that time).

She died of tuberculosis on November 30, 1846, on Capelão street in Mouraria, Lisbon, and afterward was buried on a common ditch on the cemetery of Alto de São João.

Her fame was due to a novel by Júlio Dantas, entitled A Severa, which was then made into a play and that was brought to stage in 1901. In 1931, director Leitão de Barros turned the play into the first Portuguese film to feature sound, A Severa.

~~

Jean “Django” Reinhardt (23 January 1910 – 16 May 1953) was a pioneering virtuoso jazz guitarist and composer.

Born in Belgium into a Romani family, Reinhardt invented an entirely new style of jazz guitar technique (sometimes called ‘hot’ jazz guitar) that has since become a living musical tradition within French gypsy culture. With violinist Stéphane Grappelli, he co-founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France, described by critic Thom Jurek as “one of the most original bands in the history of recorded jazz.” Reinhardt’s most popular compositions have become jazz standards, including “Minor Swing”, “Daphne”, “Belleville”, “Djangology”, “Swing ’42” and “Nuages” (French for “Clouds”). His influence has also spread to rock-pop music and guitarists including Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton.

~~

Carmen Amaya (November 2, 1913 – November 19, 1963) was a flamenco dancer and singer, of Romani origin, born in the Somorrostro slum of Barcelona, Spain (Vila Olímpica nowadays). She danced from the time she was 4 years old. In 1929, she made her debut in Paris, to warm acclaim and admiration of her dancing skill. She moved to the USA in 1936, where she went on to act in several films that broke box office records, including the Romeo and Juliet adaptation Los Tarantos, and the short film Danzas Gitanas (Gypsy Dances).

She was invited by Franklin Roosevelt to dance in the White House in 1944, and also by Harry S. Truman in 1953.
Amaya is buried in the Cementiri del Sud-Oest on Barcelona’s Montjuïc.

~

Film stars with romany parentage/roots include Yul Brynner, Bob Hoskins, Michael Caine and it is now thought likely that Charlie Chaplin not only had a romany mother but was born in a caravan on the outskirts of Birmingham, rather than London.

~

Thanks to Grey Daisies, for the following:
“April 8, the International Day of the Roma, is a day of celebration of Roma culture, history and traditions. The Day also draws attention to discrimination directed to Roma and Gypsy communities globally and calls for all human rights to be respected and observed.”

photos of romanies by great photographers:

Eugene Atget

Josef Koudelka

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