„A child gives birth to a child“. Nowadays, most Romani parents agree to the continuation of their children’s education. But what happens when the girl turns 13? A movie about the institution of marriage in the Romani tribe.
An ethnographic documentary, filmed in Heraklion city, Crete, in the Romani camp; it focuses on the position of women within the Romani community, as perceived by women themselves and as it is socially defined by marriage. The documentary is also an indirect comment on the position of women in modern society in general.
Through the movie “i itsai Romni”, I was hoping to raise, quite indirectly, a point concerning women’s position in the modern society, whether literally or metaphorically. Having the Romani community as lead figures, a community that is socially excluded and, therefore, quite separated from what’s happening in the rest of the world, the movie illustrates not only the differences, but also the hidden similarities of the Romani people with the local Cretan society, focusing on the role of women and family.
The first time I essentially met the Romani people was some years ago, when I was hired as an arts teacher in the primary school of N. Alikarnassos in Heraklion. That is where I met the young Romani for the first time. Because of the nature of the class, art was maybe their favorite lesson; that was touching, especially if you take into consideration that these children rarely come in contact with any form of art, due to their immense financial issues. What I also noticed was that, almost in their majority, the Romani children excelled in creative projects and sported a very spontaneous, free disposition: a Romani child will not cry because they got dirty, or because a paintbrush broke.
During my time as a teacher, a Romani girl quit school at the 6th grade, which means she was roughly 12-13 years old. Many Romani children do so due to various setbacks: they may need to stay home to watch over their siblings, they may not have electricity on their homes so they are not able to study or they may even not have shoes to go to school. This particular girl, however, had quit because, according to her parents, they were afraid she would be taken away during her route to school. During the Christmas holidays a family from Athens had asked them to give their daughter as a bride, but the arrangements had been cancelled. This was the incentive that led me to research the issue of marriage in the Romani society.