THE CURSE OF THE HEDGEHOG

THE CURSE OF THE HEDGEHOG fol­lows the life of an extend­ed Roma family for a whole year. They belong to the ”Baesi” group of Roma and live in extreme pover­ty. The film­mak­er accom­pa­nied them on the way from their dwelling place in the moun­tains to the low­land vil­lages, where they try to trade hand­made goods for food or money. These winter tours are sur­vival trips for them, as they have no other income what­so­ev­er. How­ev­er, the film is more than the story of their strug­gle to sur­vive. During the 100 min­utes, it becomes clear why they refuse to work the land and how they relate to the Roman­ian shep­herds, and to the rich Baesi from their vil­lage whom they call ”busi­ness­men,” who make large for­tunes from sell­ing fake rings abroad. Mytho­log­i­cal think­ing comes into play in their every­day life, along with their Chris­t­ian Ortho­dox reli­gious­ness. This enables a better under­stand­ing of the absur­di­ties and the pain that fill the lives of these people on the fringe of soci­ety. Through wit and humour, they sur­vive, but also with a lot of curs­ing.

ALPHABET OF HOPE

A stretch of seclud­ed, moun­tain­ous coun­try­side near the Bul­gar­i­an-Greek-Turk­ish border, a few kilo­me­tres long and a few hun­dred metres wide. In the 1980s, when the Bul­gar­i­an state tried to con­vert all Turks to Chris­tian­i­ty – demand­ing that they adopt Slavic names – most of its inhab­i­tants flew to Turkey. Many of the vil­lages near this border were aban­doned. But some people stayed. The film con­cen­trates on a few fam­i­lies – Chris­t­ian as well as Muslim – and the uncer­tain future of their chil­dren. Since most schools were closed, the chil­dren have to drive 140 kilo­me­tres to the only school for the 16 vil­lages of the region – at dawn, in a truck, in rain or snow; Bul­gar­i­an, Turk­ish and Roma chil­dren learn there side by side. Their mutual respect for each other’s faith, but also a truck driver and the local doctor, give the par­ents and their chil­dren hope to be able to live togeth­er in this remote land­scape.

Iulian. A True Story

Iulian, an orphan boy living on the streets of Bucharest, is look­ing for his family. He final­ly finds a new one when he is an adult. The charis­mat­ic young man openly talks about his expe­ri­ences in a Roman­ian orphan­age, his strug­gles living on the streets, and his attempts to create an inde­pen­dent exis­tence. His sup­port­ers are deeply touched by his open heart, his good man­ners, and his will to fight for an inde­pen­dent life in the urban jungle.

Our School

In 2006, the Roman­ian town of Târgu Lăpuş received fund­ing from the Euro­pean Union to intro­duce inte­grat­ed (deseg­re­gat­ed) school­ing, in other words to found a joint school for Roma and Roman­ian chil­dren. (…) When the project was over, the Roma chil­dren found them­selves back where they had start­ed – out­side. The two Roman­ian women direc­tors filmed this process over a period of four years. OUR SCHOOL is a fas­ci­nat­ing feat: on one level, we observe how the beliefs of fig­ures in the dom­i­nant cul­ture – the mayor, the prin­ci­pal and the teach­ers – slowly trans­form into a kind of insti­tu­tion­al power to decide over the lives of these chil­dren. On anoth­er level, we follow three chil­dren who start­ed this project with high hopes, and we feel their dis­ap­point­ment all the more keenly. This is an atmos­pher­ic and intel­li­gent film that does not fall back on clichés as it fol­lows the pro­tag­o­nists affec­tion­ate­ly.

Everybody in our Family

There’s no way around it: modern man reacts to stress much like his stone-age fore­fa­thers, his phys­i­cal chem­istry decid­ing within sec­onds on fight or flight. Aside from the morn­ing hang­over, his par­ents, the battle with nico­tine and car prob­lems, Marius Vizereanu’s great­est stress factor is the immi­nent visit to the blend­ed family where his young daugh­ter Sofia lives with her grand­moth­er, mother and her new boyfriend Aurel. Marius is an onlook­er there at best, but today he wants to pick up Sofia to take her on a sea­side outing. As soon as the camera enters the cramped flat with him, it is as if trans­formed into a mea­sur­ing device. Each rise in blood pres­sure, every emo­tion, sar­cas­tic remark, threat, or self-abase­ment is record­ed in metic­u­lous fash­ion, includ­ing any amount of dirty laun­dry and unfin­ished busi­ness. Although Marius’ visit is brief and we expe­ri­ence it in real time, the ever-broad spec­trum of feel­ings that go hand in hand with the family cosmos means the excel­lent actors have plenty to draw on.

Expe­ri­ence is nearly always the parody of an idea. This also applies to the idea of family. Fight or flight can help when it comes to irre­solv­able family bonds. Or even both.