DER Documentary

T'an Bahktale! (Good Fortune To You!): Roma (Gypsies) In Russia

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by Alaina Lemon
Russian and Romani, English Subtitles
color, 75 min, 1996

Non-profit, K-12, and Individual pricing also available
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Shot in central Russia in 1993, T'an Bahktale! documents how Russians, Romani performers, well-to-do merchant Roma, and poorer, metalworking Roma describe what it means to be a Gypsy. Before shooting, one of the directors did more than two years of fieldwork in Russia with Roma (1990-1993). A few people in the documentary had been videotaped or filmed in the past, either by Russian journalists or filmmakers but this was the first time any of them had been asked to speak Romani to the camera, rather than Russian. The video is divided into three parts that can be viewed separately or individually according to available class time.

Part I (20 min): 1. Brief interviews on Moscow streets with post-Soviets on impressions of "Gypsies". 2. An interview with a veteran Romani stage performer, who explains teaching "Gypsy dance" to Russians, being interviewed by reporters, and describes her family. 3. A Sunday class for urban children of Romani performers. A painting class where they learn to draw "the image of a Gypsy girl" and an interview with the only Russian girl in the class. The school organizers both experts on Gypsy culture by profession, explain the appeal of Gypsies to Russians in terms of "nostalgia".

Part II (35 min): 1. A Lovari Romani family explains their family history and relationships. They are merchants and non-performers except for a few children who used to go to Romani classes. 2. The "experts" from Part I expound on key Gypsy terms. They are cut with lovari using them their own way, at times contradicting what the experts say.

Part III (20 min): 1. A third Romani group, Keldelari metalworkers, display their houses and village, define relationships and compare themselves to Russians. 2. A dance segment. 3. Comments by the experts, the Lovari and the Keldelari on the ways each of the Romani groups live.

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