Roman Bondarchuk: Roma Dream

It was a film, a photo exhibition and a book of postcards that I experienced when in Kiev for the DocuDays a month ago. I have the book of postcards in front of me, The Roma Album it is called and I take a small quotation from the preface written by Dar’ya Averchenko, scriptwriter and partner of Roman Bondarchuk, a very talented film couple with many projects in development, and with a strong involvement in the festival DocuDays.

Dar’ya Averchenko writes, after she and Bondarchuk have visited several roma settlements in different parts of Ukraine: Almost all the residents of the camp live day to day. They do not even have dreams. They think of themselves as lost and ill-fated, and have no knowledge of their heroes… for almost twenty years, Anna has been visiting the camp. She works in Berehovo in in the healthcare field, and she helps Roma people get their passports issued, and to get free treatment for tuberculosis. This disease is the hardest on them. We enter the cabin of one of her charges – a dark damp hut with one window. A beautiful young gypsy woman is feeding her baby. Five more children run around this only room. Her sick husband lies on the bed. He has fever… why Anna comes here – Believe me, among them, there  are better people than some of my own relatives. In order to help them, you just need to love people…

The positive humanistic (some would probably say romantic) approach to the Romas is also present in the four small stories that form Bondarchuk’s short documentary ”Roma Dream”. Well told, straight forward we meet Denys, who is a school teacher in one of the communities, for five kids (!), the rest of the kids are at home as their parents do not send them to school. Denys is a great character, with humour, whereas it is more hard for young Diana, who got her first child when 16 year old, and who is now the one who leads the dancing sessions to keep the culture alive. Myroslav and his wife run a simple tv studio where they report on Roma social problems. We follow him out on a location shoot, which gives Bondarchuk the chance to make amazing close-up photos of a a group of children of a mother who with her husband are in danger of being kicked out by the authorities. The last protagonist in the four good stories is Renata, who sets up an office in a Roma settlement to help (a Roma herself she is an educated lawyer) the people with their legal problems, as one of them says ”the whole world is based on documents”.

Well made, beautifully shot, this is professional work and wonderful it is to get positive angles on the lives of the roma people. We are not used to that.

Ukraine, 2012, 22 mins.

The film can be seen on

If you write to Darya Averchenko you can get the postcard book: !!!

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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