Sunday, February 6, 2011


Documentary by Young Roma Filmmaker Wins Award


Laura Halilovic

A feature-length documentary by 19-year-old Laura Halilovic has won the UCCA Prize 2009 at the Bellaria Film Festival in Italy.

"Me, My Gipsy Family & Woody Allen," a documentary by 19-year-old Laura Halilovic, won the UCCA Prize 2009 at the Bellaria Film Festival, held in Bellaria, Italy on June 2-6, and also received special mention by the jury "for the ability to describe in a soft, at times ironic, but always direct way, her own story, the one of her family and through these the difficult conditions of Gipsies in Italy." The UCCA Prize is awarded to the top two documentaries at the festival, and the prize-winning films receive the opportunity to be screened in at least 20 Italian cities.

Laura Halilovic has wanted to become a director since the age of nine and as a child she told her parents that she wanted to become Woody Allen. Her first involvement in film came at the age of 15, when she appeared in a documentary by directors Davide Tosco and Nicola Rondolino. In 2006, with assistance from Tosco and Rondolino, she started shooting her first short film, "Illusion," a story about love within a group of teenagers. The film won first prize at the 2007 Under-18 film festival in Turin, when Halilovic was just 17. In "Me, My Gypsy Family & Woody Allen," her first feature-length film—also created in cooperation with Tosco (as producer) and Rondolino (as co-writer)—she tells the story of her family, which came to Italy from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The film, however, is not only the portrait of a family; it also depicts human relations in a larger, diverse community.

Until 1997, Halilovic lived with her family in a camp near Turin's airport. Today they live in the district of Falchera Nuova, on the outskirts of the city, where she works for a youth association that assists Roma children with their schooling. Her documentary—produced by Zenit Arti Audiovisive with support from the OSI Roma Decade Matching Fund, Italian broadcaster RAI 3, the Italian Ministry of Equal Opportunity, Piemonte Doc Film Fund and others— describes the evolution of a community by retracing its past twenty years. Halilovic wants us to become acquainted with her family, her family's friends, more distant relatives and all the people who have stood by her over the years. She even gives voice to those who do not approve of her family's presence in the neighborhood. Using her family's story, Halilovic wants us to get to know a culture that is still unknown to many.

"Many films and documentaries have been made about our tradition and our way of living," says Halilovic, "but in such a way that we can never really identify ourselves with it. Directors and scriptwriters still show the world of Gipsies through stereotypes. They ignore that some of us don't even look like Roma people, and that many of us who still live as nomads would love to have a public housing apartment and to send the children to school."

"People are still afraid, they don't trust us. They turn away as soon as they hear the word Gipsy. That makes us feel rejected in a country which is not our own, in which we are trying to build a future."

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