Grades 10-12, College, Adult
Directed by Gillian Darling Kovanic
Produced by Tamarin Productions
DVD Purchase $250, Rent $85
VHS Purchase $250, Rent $85
US Release Date: 2003
Copyright Date: 2003
VHS ISBN: 1-56029-979-7
Race and Racism
Awards and Festivals
Silver Plaque (Investigative Reporting/News Documentary), Chicago International Television Awards
Honorable Mention, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
International Festival of Human Rights Films, Spain
Vermont International Film Festival
Amnesty International Film Festival, Salt Lake City
Amnesty International Film Festival, Vancouver
Amnesty International Film Festival, Seattle
International Women Directors Film Festival, Créteil, France
Suspino: A Cry for Roma (Short Version)|
An unflinching look at the persecution of Europe's largest minority, the Roma or 'gypsies'.
Suspino - A Cry For Roma takes an unflinching look at the persecution that continues to plague Europe's largest and most vilified minority. With the fall of communism and rise of right-wing nationalism, the Roma (or Gypsies as they are pejoratively called) have become scapegoats for Eastern Europe's nascent democracies. Because of violent conflicts and discrimination, tens of thousands of Eastern European Roma are fleeing their countries. The film focuses on Romania where Europe's largest concentration of Roma are considered 'public enemies', and Italy, where the Roma are classified as nomads and relegated to living in camps. Here they are denied basic human rights available to refugees and foreign residents.
Aiming to create a "Gypsy-free" Romanian town, a mayor tries to move local Roma into an abandoned chicken farm, encircled with barbed wire and patrolled by guards with dogs. A Roma family gathers in a Transylvanian graveyard to mourn the death of 3 brothers murdered in an earlier pogrom that also saw the destruction of 21 of their houses. In a squalid trailer camp ten kilometers from Vatican City, a young Roma couple that fled persecution in Romania is trying to build a new life. Instead they end up begging to feed their children. Their nightmare worsens when the mayor of Rome decides to bulldoze the camp to the ground. A Romanian Roma activist seeking asylum in Canada tells a heart-breaking story of a pogrom against his community back home, and explains that this international human rights crisis has its roots in 500 years of slavery in Eastern Europe.
Romania hopes to enter the European Union by 2010 but first must improve their treatment of minorities, especially the Roma. But what hope is there for the Roma when gatekeeper countries like Italy are also in flagrant violation of human rights conventions?
SHORT VERSION This version is shortened from the director's original 72-minute cut and was edited with educational and group screenings in mind, where length is an important factor. The director describes the difference between the two versions as follows:
"The 72-minute version of SUSPINO - A Cry For Roma contains a number of scenes that have been excised from the 50 minute version."
"The short version's account of the destruction of the Roma/Gypsy camp omits two scenes that delve into the aftermath of the event. Daily life in the Roma camps is portrayed in three additional scenes in the longer cut of the film, which juxtapose the relative poverty of the camps with the affluence of Rome and its citizens; for contrast, the 72-minute version also documents Roma families struggling to adapt and survive in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania. This segment features Emilian Niculae, one of the film's principle characters. A Roma man's testimonial concerning discrimination against Roma in the workplace is also absent from the 50-minute version."
"In addition to these scenes, which have been completely removed from the abbreviated version of SUSPINO, several scenes have been replaced with title cards in the 50-minute version. These include an appearance by Istvan Haller, a Romanian Human Rights Worker, as well as Canadian Roma activist Ronald Lee's visit to a goverment-regulated trailer park that houses those Roma displaced by the destruction of the camp in Rome, a visit that occurs one and a half years after the commencement of shooting for SUSPINO." Gillian Darling Kovanic
"I had no idea how much I would be affected by watching this intensely moving documentary. I wanted to grab all my colleagues, and sit them down, and make them watch it. If anything will dispel the popular notion that 'the Gypsy's life is a joyous life,' then this will."
Ian Hancock, Director, The Romani Archives and Documentation Center
"The message is passionately stated, yet with great authoritiveness... Kovanic, even though an outsider, is to be congratulated for so successfully presenting an insider perspective by allowing the subjects to speak for themselves."
William G. Lockwood, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Michigan
"I highly recommend this film in both versions. I especially encourage its use in higher education seminar classes, where it can potentially stimulate critical thinking about the subtleties as well as the significance of the Roma and their issues...The film offers introductory multicultural classes a sensitivity exercise for its younger audiences."
David Jim Nemeth, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toledo
"As the first American Romani person to be appointed to the United States Holocaust Council...I am proud to lend support to this documentary film and encourage everyone to see it. This documentary clearly states the racism and persecution my people have faced in past centuries to the present times."
William A. Duna, author Gypsies: A Persecuted Race
"Does an excellent job of calling attention to the plight of the Roma and would provide an excellent starting point to a broader discussion of the problems of ethnic minorities."
Patricia B. McGee, Coordinator of Media Services, Volpe Library and Media Center, Tennessee Technological University
"Suspino: A Cry for Roma is a worthy entry in the documentation of the injustices committed against minority groups and transient groups around the world. Sometimes it feels like so many minority are oppressed that the majority of humans struggle against oppression, and that might ultimately be true. But we, as anthropologists, as teachers, and as human beings must not let `injustice fatigue' immobilize us...Suitable for high school and for college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of violence, anthropology of ethnicity, anthropology of human rights, and European/Roma studies, as well as general audiences."