Thursday, November 1, 2012

Expanded Romania Release: Tour, DVD & Online Streaming

Image courtesy of Centrul Ceh & One World Romania
We are thrilled to announce that, following our tour of Romanian cities this spring, Our School is expanding to additional cities in Romania this fall, with our partners at One World Romania On Tour. We'll be screening in the following new cities: 
  • Brasov on Wed, Oct 31 8pm at Centrul Cultural Reduta
  • Galati on Sat, Nov 3 5:30pm at Muzeul de Arta Vizuala
  • Targu Mures on Fri, Nov 9 4pm at Palatul Culturii
  • Sighetu Marmatiei on Fri, Nov 9 8pm at Sala Radio Sighet
  • Resita on Wed, Nov 14 5pm at Colegiul T.Lalescu
  • Miercurea Ciuc on Thurs, Nov 15 8pm at Muzeul Secuiesc
  • Sfantu Gheorghe on Sat, Nov 17 7pm at Sala Ecou 
Our School will be launched on DVD in November as part of a wonderful first collection of documentary DVDs put out by our partners at One World Romania. The DVDs will be launched in Bucharest on November 22 at Libraria Bastilia and November 26 at Centrul Ceh. Meanwhile, they can be pre-ordered at a 20% discount here.

Finally, Our School will later become available for streaming in Romania on the WebKino platform launched by our distributor, Cristian Mungiu's Voodoo Films. We will update the launch date and post the text code for accessing the film as soon as they become available.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Our School Broadens Swiss Release

Our School poster at Bio Carouge in Geneva. Photo (c) Miruna Coca-Cozma
Following an eight-week theatrical release in Swiss Romande this spring, Our School expands its run to new cinemas, as well as to the German-speaking Swiss territories this fall. 

We have reached out to Swiss teachers' groups, human rights organizations and authorities to make the best use of the film as a springboard for a broader discussion about Roma integration and the pressing issue of overcoming prejudice in Switzerland, where Roma migrants often face backlash. 

Here is a partial list of Swiss screenings lined up for this fall:
  • Haute école pédagogique Vaud in Lausanne shows excerpts of the film on Sun, Sept 22 at 2pm at UNIL, Dorigny, as part of the Assises romandes de l'éducation, which focus this year on school integration; a full screening follows in the evening, with a discussion conducted by Miruna Coca-Cozma 
  • Our School is this year's opening film for the CinéBrunch Regards d'Ailleurs series in Fribourg on Sat, Oct 13 at 11am at Cinemotion Rex; Q&A with Director Miruna Coca-Cozma follows the screening
  • Centre de Culture ABC in La-Chaux-de-Fonds will follow a screening on Tue, Oct 23 at 5:30pm  with a round table on Roma integration with the participation of Amnesty International Switzerland, the President of the Neuchâtel State Council and the Head of the Department of Education, representatives of the Lausanne Police, and director Miruna Coca-Cozma; Our School will also screen at ABC on Sat, Oct 27 and Sun, Oct 28 at  4pm
  • Cinéma de Cossonay shows Our School on Wed, Oct 24 at 8:30pm, again with a Q&A with Director Miruna Coca-Cozma
  • The wonderful arthouse cinema Kino Kunstmuseum in Berne will show Our School on Fri, Nov 2 at 6:30pm, Sat, Nov 3 at 6pm (followed by Q&A with Director Miruna Coca-Cozma), Sun, Nov 4 at 4:30pm (also followed by Q&A with Director Miruna Coca-Cozma), as well as Wed, Nov 7 at 6:30pm
  • Cinéma Rex in Aubonne will screen Our School on Mon, Nov 12 at 8:30pm 
  • Finally, we're returning to the Carouge Cinéma Bio 72 in Geneva, where the film ran for seven consecutive weeks this spring, for an educational screening with Director Miruna Coca-Cozma on Tues, Nov 13, at 11am
If you cannot catch Miruna Coca-Cozma doing a Q&A this fall, you can take a look at her interviews in Les Quotidiennes - Miruna Coca-Cozma filme le reve entrave d'une école pour enfants Roms - or listen to the hour-long radio show featuring her on Radio RTS - Un documentaire sur les enfants roms.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Our School Supports Romanian Cinema in New York

Last year we had the honor of presenting Our School in the Romanian film festival in New York at the Walter Reade Theater, on the Romania's national day. Director Mona Nicoara, who lives in New York, had been attending the festival for many years. It is by far the most exciting and innovative Romanian cultural event in the city, with a fantastic audience, outstanding industry presence, excellent press coverage from the NYTimes to the Village Voice, and, last but not least, a great line-up of New Wave movies curated by a team of Lincoln Center Film Society and Transylvania International Film Festival programmers.

Recently, the Romanian Cultural Institute, which until last year funded the event, has fallen victim to political changes and culture wars raging back in Bucharest. You can find a good overview of the situation published by New York Times earlier this summer here. Since then, the Institute's programs for the remainder of this year have been defunded, its leadership replaced with throwbacks to Communist-era ideologues, and its mission changed to, for instance, producing a series of documentaries called "Treasures of the Carpathians." Just today, the newly appointed head of the Institute announced in an interview that he wants to shift the focus from film and the arts to promoting Romania's contributions to science and technology like the...radiator. It sounds funny, but for those of us who remember Romania before 1989, it is sadly familiar.

Luckily, the team who founded the festival is working hard to keep it going, with support from the Lincoln Center Film Society, private foundations, and Romanian artists. But they need to fill their budget gap through crowd funding. They just launched a Kickstarter campaign, which we supported by volunteering to produce the video below. 

Please donate and spread the word. Every bit, from anywhere in the world, counts, and every supporter and gesture of solidarity is an important victory for Romanian artists and filmmakers, and for the dedicated New York audience of this festival. A dollar a day keeps the radiators away. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fall Festival Upate

Fall in Targu Lapus. Photo credit: Miruna Coca-Cozma (c) Sat Mic Film, LLC
We have the first festivals for this fall confirmed. More to come, but here are the few that we can publicly announce at this time: 

Mu:vi Fest, Bistrita, Romania (opening film)
Prishtina Internatonal Film Festival, Prishtina, Kosovo

We will add screenings to this post as we go along. Please keep an eye on our UPCOMING SCREENINGS tab on the right for more screenings, including advocacy, community and educational screenings outside the festival circuit, and new cinema releases.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Guardian Op-Ed by Mona Nicoara on "Gypsy" Reality Shows

[This op-ed by Our School Director Mona Nicoara was originally published on July 28, 2012, by the The Guardian as American Gypsies Needs to Catch up with the Reality of Roma People's Lives in the Comment is Free section of the US online edition. Thank you to Jessica Reed and Gary Younge for supporting the publication of the piece.]

Reality shows feed on stereotypes and disdain for tribes other than one's own. Most people in the US know of Jersey Shore, which generated a debate around the representation of Italian-Americans on television. There are many more like it: The Littlest Groom (which plays on stereotypes about little people), My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé (overweight people) and, yes, the unfortunately and descriptively titled Black Mafia Family Wives.

Now comes National Geographic's new reality series, American Gypsies, launched on the heels of TLC's ongoing My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, itself a spin-off of the UK's Channel 4's enormously successful Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. Sadly, this spate of exoticising voyeurism has nothing to do with genuine interest in Roma or Travellers, the two ethnic groups lumped together under the term "Gypsy" (a term considered derogatory by most Roma activists). Rather, it has everything to do with the chase for ratings, which is at the heart of the tabloidisation of television everywhere. Consequently, these shows are built on tried and true tropes: broad stereotypes, artificially constructed conflicts, unidimensional characters, set-up scenes and scripted lines.

Accuracy is beside the point: these shows are invested in reproducing a version of what it means to be a "Gypsy" that broadcasters believe to be most comfortable for their audience – Esmeralda-like headscarves, belly dancing, innate violence, gaudy parties, psychic healing parlours. The teaser for the series manages to cram all of those cliches into one minute, with time to spare. The response has been predictable: within a day, online comments were rife with racial slurs and no small number of sympathetic references to Hitler.

I have seen this dynamic before. I grew up in an atmosphere permeated by the kind of stereotypes about violent, dirty and scheming "Gypsies" that abound in Europe. I am ethnically Romanian and grew up in Romania, where Roma were enslaved until the 1860s and deported to extermination camps during the second world war. The few who remained nomadic were forcibly settled during communism. Then, many were chased out of villages during violent, deadly pogroms in the 1990s. To this day, Roma children are shunted into dead-end segregated schools which trap them in the vicious cycle of poverty and disenfranchisement.

Yet Roma continue to be blamed for living at the edge of society. Reality shows perpetuate this fiction of self-segregation by stressing difference and tradition, by recasting the viewers' ignorance as secrecy on the part of the Roma and by artificially presenting the preservation of ethnic identity as radically opposed to those elements that make up our common humanity: curiosity and learning, making new friends, falling in love. American Gypsies begins by pronouncing: "For over 1,000 years, Romany or Gypsy people have remained hidden from view. Until now" then proceeds to repeatedly flash info-cards on the fear of outsiders and the mating habits of Roma in their natural habitat. Fittingly, the tagline for this new show is "You Don't Know Gypsy." In the UK, the last season of Channel 4's Big Fat Gypsy Weddings was announced by billboards touting it as "Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier." Try that out with other minorities. Really, see how it feels.

These shows are especially harmful because Roma people do not have any alternative representations in the public's imagination. There is no Roma equivalent to Leonardo da Vinci or Joe DiMaggio, to Rosa Parks or Barack Obama. In the US, where there is very little awareness of Roma, My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding and American Gypsies will likely turn ignorance into all-out prejudice. In the UK, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings has already led to a spike in bullying of Roma and Traveller children. Elsewhere in eastern Europe, where it has been syndicated, the franchise will only fan the flames of violent racism by playing into the hands of skinheads and nationalists.

I know there are other, much more rewarding ways to treat the subject for a general audience. In 2006, I took a small crew to a tiny town in Transylvania to follow a group of Roma children who were taken out of a crumbling segregated school into a Romanian-led school, where they faced further rejection and humiliation. Over the course of five years, we worked with the conviction that audiences would be interested in connecting to the day-to-day lives of Roma and exploring the complexity of race relations. It paid off: in the 30 countries where we screened over the past year, sold-out rooms engaged with our film in lively discussions that sometimes stretched for hours. We found mainstream audiences thrilled to be thinking for themselves, open to exploring their own contribution to inequality, and moved by our shared humanity.

We should give ourselves more credit: we have shown that we can break through patterns of oppression several times over the course of history. Little by little, the way we treat and understand Roma will change, inexorably for the better. It is a shame that television will have to catch up to this, instead of leading the way.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Our School Wins Best International Feature at HRAFF in Australia!

Wonderful news today - Our School has been awarded Best International Feature at the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival in Australia! We are honored to have been selected from a stellar line-up, and to have been so warmly received by the jury and by public of the festival! We are also grateful for having had the chance to screen in multiple cities on the continent: Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane. We'd be hard pressed to find places more remote from Târgu Lăpuș, where Alin, Beni, and Dana live, so it's particularly thrilling to know that the story of these three children resonated for the audiences of the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer festival update

Elisabeta herding cows. Photo credit: Mona Nicoara (c) Sat Mic Film, LLC

This summer Our School is coming to the following festivals:

Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, Australia
International Romani Art Festival, Romania

EducaTIFF, Romania
Cinema Al Kolenkit, the Netherlands
Baia de Cultura, Romania
Vukovar Film Festival, Croatia

We're also continuing to tour Romania with Zilele Filmului Romanesc, Poland with WatchDocs, and Switzerland as part of a series of special screenings organized by Pipas Films.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Our School on Tour in Romania

We're finally coming to a broad audience in eight cities in Romania! Over the next month, Our School will be touring Romania with Zilele Filmului Românesc, a caravan of the best Romanian documentaries organized by Voodoo Films, the distribution company started by Romanian Palme d'Or-winning director Cristian Mungiu to bring Romanian films to under-served regions of the country. 

Our School be screening in Ploieşti, Botoşani, Râmnicu Vâlcea, Piteşti, Baia Mare, and Bucharest between May 23 and June 29, alongside two other beautiful Romanian films: Dieter Auner's Off the Beaten Track and Anca Damian's Crulic. You can find a complete schedule of screenings here

Additionally, we'll have several screenings in Cluj through EducaTIFF, the film education program of the Transylvania International Film Festival, before and during the festival itself. More details coming up here

And we will screen in Timișoara, also in early June, through the traveling events of the Astra Film Festival.

Last, but not least, we will be back in Bucharest on June 10, in a special screening at fabulous International Romani Art Festival!

We will update all screening times and locations under the UPCOMING SCREENINGS on the right of this blog post, as the details become public.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We Need Your Input: Our School Coming to US Educators

Our School is part of Reel Education, a collective of nine documentary film projects that provide a nuanced and compelling portrait of education. Using powerful personal stories, and highlighting themes that range from closing achievement gaps to the protection of funding for after-school programs, each of these films has the power to influence a small corner of the national conversation on education and to engage people in action. But pooled together and positioned into the work of organizations and other leaders who share their collective vision, the impact of our media can be amplified.

We are collaborating with Working Films to identify communities across the country that could benefit from using the Reel Education films in their advocacy, training, or organizing efforts. We want to know which of these project are most closely aligned with the issues at play in your community and how film screenings could advance your work. So please take a few moments to check out the trailers for all of the amazing film projects and then answer this short survey.

We need your input! Have more questions about Reel Education? Feel free to contact Anna Lee at Working Films. She’s heading up the project.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Special Screening with the Romanian Ministry of Education

Post-screening Q&A - from left to right: Mircea Toma of Active Watch, Director Mona Nicoara, Minister of Education Catalin Baba, Director of Photography Ovidiu Marginean, Magda Matache of Romani CRISS, and Costel Bercus of Roma Education Fund. Photo by Catalin Georgescu for One World Romania

[This blogpost by Mona Nicoara appeared originally as the inaugural post in the Dispatches from the Field series on the Chicken and Egg Pictures blog. We are grateful to Chicken and Egg for their continuing creative, moral and financial support of Our School over the past three years.

In March 2012, the Romanian Minister of Education made a loud, public commitment to include Our School into national teacher training curricula at all levels.  This had been the intention all along, since starting out development work on the film back in 2005: To get Our School  into the education systems of those countries where the issue of racial segregation of Roma in school was the most pressing. But the long way here has been neither straight nor obvious.

I came to the project as a human rights activist who had done extensive work on Roma rights. I knew the issue, knew pretty much everyone working on it — and had their support. I really thought that we’d be pretty much snap our fingers when the film was finished — and all the NGOs working on Roma education would rush to snatch the film from our hands and screen it for decision-makers all over Europe.

To be fair, some of that happened, right away: The London Secretariat of Amnesty International came on board after seeing a fine cut of the film, and have remained faithful partners for more than a year, encouraging their country groups to co-present some of our national premieres, organizing panels and Q&As, and taking the film over after our festival premieres for community screenings in places like Denmark, Greece or France. Works like a dream.

But we had some early wake-up calls, too: Our world premiere, scheduled simultaneously with a long-overdue review of the Czech Republic and Greece’s compliance with European Court of Human Rights judgments on school segregation, fell short of expectations. The Prague festival where we premiered was run by an organization that had just left an NGO coalition for desegregation in the Czech Republic — so it became clear, very quickly, that they were not going to promote the film. The local NGOs were busy waging war on the recent appointment of right-wing extremists in the Ministry of Education. Bringing decision-makers into a screening room was out of the question. And then there was the Czech press, which turned out to be more excited about films they had heard about from other festivals coming to Prague than about a world premiere which was, in their view, untested. (Lest this sound like a total failure, let me add this: The audience was just fantastic — warm, engaged and supportive.)

We learned two lessons: First, we needed to concentrate on making Our School a success as a film before it could be taken seriously as a tool. In the countries where we want to work most, there is no established culture of using documentaries as tools for change. For people to even begin to consider the social value of the film, we needed to first command as much of an artistic spotlight as we could. And, second, we needed to time events not so much around obvious advocacy opportunities as around the needs of our partner organizations. If that means waiting, so be it.

It helped that we had fantastic opportunities to position the film artistically right off the bat: A high-profile North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival; our fantastic Romanian premiere at the prestigious Transylvania International Film Festival; a grand jury prize for Best US Documentary at Silverdocs and nominations for the Silver Eye for Best Eastern European Documentary and a Gopo Award for Best Romanian Documentary; over 40 festivals during the first year alone; and some darn good press.

Some time towards the end of our first year out in the world, the invitations we had been seeking all along started coming in — from the various intergovernmental organizations which form the alphabet soup ruling Europe, from major funders and donor agencies, and from local partners who had very clear ideas of how Our School could be of use to them. It’s not always easy to work around our partners’ schedules to coordinate these actions with our continuing festival run (and try to get as much bang from our travel bucks as possible) — but, somehow, by hook or by crook, we’ve been able to make it work each time we needed to.

The screening we had in March in Bucharest is a very good example of that. The film had been in various festivals in Romania for nine months, gathering interest and momentum. As we were trying to figure out the best timing for an advocacy screening in Bucharest, an invitation to take part in the One World Romania festival arrived. We knew right away that this was a good fit: This is an strong, intelligently programmed and socially engaged festival (the proportion of consequential Chicken and Egg and Sundance Documentary Fund-supported projects selected each year would be downright funny if it  didn’t make perfect sense). They had a history of organizing high-profile public debates around  documentary films — and they were willing to do the same for Our School.

We a few loyal partners on the ground, starting with Romani CRISS, the most prominent Roma NGO in Romania, who had also helped us jump-start the project and served as our fiscal sponsor during production; and the Roma Education Fund, one of our earliest funders, whose leadership had already been co-hosting screenings of Our School in the US Congress, at the opening of the Verzio festival in Budapest, and before a crowd of pro bono lawyers and Roma rights activists in Berlin. However, while these NGOs were strong on substance and more than happy to help, neither of them had the experience or staff capacity to organize a high-profile advocacy event around a documentary film. That task fell to ActiveWatch, a media-monitoring agency who had the substance, experience, capacity, and convening power to pull off such an event. Most importantly, they had Teo, a whip-smart and devastatingly organized staff member with whom, over the couple of months leading up to the event, I ended up talking probably more than I got to talk to my own family. That’s really what it takes to make these things happen.

It was all going according to plan until the Minister of Education changed, unexpectedly,  one month before our screening. I knew the previous Minister (we had grown up in the same town and our parents knew each other). He was aware of the film. I knew he has interested in Roma education issues. The new Minister, however, was a total mystery. But he reacted very openly when approached, and promised to come to the screening. We kept our fingers crossed that the screening would actually stay on his schedule, and even managed to get a brief meeting with him the day before to confirm his presence, and make sure he understands the set-up of the event. Other officials, however, were less responsive: The President’s Office, the relevant Parliament committees, the Members of the European Parliament representing Romania did not send anyone to the screening, and it wasn’t for lack of trying on our (actually mostly Teo’s) part.

When screening time came around, we had an incredible energy in the room - the anticipation and support in Bucharest had been growing for almost one year, and it paid off big time for us. The 350-seat room was packed to the gills, with people jockeying for standing room. During the debate following the film, the Ministry committed to making Our School part of the teacher training curricula by the start of the new school year. The National Council for Combating Discrimination asked for DVDs that they could start using in training programs the following week. And the Pedagogical Sciences program at the Bucharest University asked for a screening in two days. It’s hard to even imagine a stronger commitment from government agencies and relevant authorities - but it all came about in large part because we waited for the right opportunity and had the right partners on board.

We were lucky in other ways too: The next week we were able to present our campaigning goals in the Good Pitch2 organized during the Movies That Matter festival in the Hague. The timing could not have been better, coming off the success of our Romanian efforts. We were able to garner interest from new funders who offered to supplement the audience engagement and advocacy grants we received from the Sundance Documentary Fund and the Open Society Institute. One of our earliest funders in Romania, UNICEF, offered to take the film on at a regional level.

Finally, we received an invitation to do what we had been hoping to be able to do with this film since 2005: screen it before European Union officials in Brussels. That’s coming up in May, together with an effort to replicate our work in Romania in Hungary, and, hopefully, as more grants come in, to other places where school segregation of Roma is a burning issue: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, but also Italy and France.

It is exciting, but also daunting: There is an awful lot of countries where we need to do this kind of work. We have already been on the road with the film for over a year, yet  we’re looking down the barrel of at least another year of this kind of work — and that’s after working six years to make the darn film. Thankfully, it’s worth it. And that’s what has been keeping us going all along, from the very beginning.

A Romanian public television show,  Rom European, dedicated to Our School's special screening in Bucharest may give you a flavor of the event: 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Our School Receives Graine de Cinéphage Award in Créteil

On April 8, International Roma Day, we had an additional reason to celebrate:  Our School received the Graine de Cinéphage award at Festival International de Films de Femmes de Créteil. The award is given by the youth jury of the venerable festival, and has additional, hopeful meaning given the recent history of Romanian Roma in France. We are honored and grateful - to the youth jury, the festival itself, and the our wonderful partners at Amnesty International France, who co-hosted our screenings there. We cannot wait to share with Alin, Beni and Dana the news that their story is valued by young film lovers!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Swiss Theatrical Release of Our School

Our School's French-language festival poster

We're thrilled to announce the theatrical release of Our School in Switzerland, beginning with March 14th, 2012, at Cinéma BIO in Geneva and Zinéma in Laussane. Miruna Coca-Cozma will be present to launch the film and do Q&As - she will be in Geneva on March 14th and in Laussane on March 15th.

Update: As of early May, Our School has already had a seven-week run in Suisse Romande, and has been extended through May 8 at Cinema Bio in Geneva.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Spring Festival Update

Springtime in Targu Lapus. Photo credit: Ovidiu Marginean (c) Sat Mic Film, LLC
We thought that the spring festival season would be slower, one year after our premiere. But it's even busier than the fall - 15 festivals and counting. Here is the first batch confirmed for Spring 2012: 

One World Romania, March 13-18, Bucharest, Romania
Cape Winelands Film Festival, March 14-24, Cape Town, South Africa
Movies That Matter Film Festival, March 22-29, the Hague, Netherlands
Latcho Divano, March 23-April 18, Marseilles, France
Sebastopol Documentary Festival, March 30-April 1, Sebastopol, CA, USA
Films de Femmes, March 30-April 8, Creteil, France
Diversite, April 10-24, Franche-Comte, France
Stimmen der Roma, April 19- May 22, Munich, Germany 
Romanian Film Festival. April 25-30, Stanford, CA, USA
Council on Foundations Film and Video Festival, April 29-May 1, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Neisse FilmFestival, May 2-6, Germany
Romanian Film Days, May 4-6. Stockholm. Sweden 
Cronograf, May 10-15, Chisinau, Moldova
One World Brussels, May 14-23, Brussels, Belgium
Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, May 16-June 16, Australia

Thrilled to be in these great events - as well as in series screenings at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the Sattya Arts Collective in Nepal, MIT, and others. We will update and expand this list in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on the UPCOMING SCREENINGS tab on the right side of the screen for specific times and places, as well as for miscellaneous other screenings outside the festival circuit.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Our School Nominated for the Romanian Gopo Awards!

The Gopo Award statue. Image: Premiile Gopo

Wonderful news: This morning we were nominated in the Best Documentary category of Romanian Gopo Awards (Premiile Gopo)! It's fantastic to see Alin, Beni and Dana's story included among the best Romanian films of last year. We are honored and moved to be nominated, and thrilled to be in the company of such wonderful Romanian documentaries as Radu Muntean's Visiting Hours.

The Gopos were set up in 2006 to reward the best Romanian film productions of each year - of which there is quite a bit these days: Past winners include 12:08 East of Bucharest, Palme d'Or Winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, Emmy-winner The World According to Ion B, and the fantastic Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu

The Gopos were named after Romanian animation artist and Palme d'Or winner Ion Popescu Gopo, whose iconic character serves as the award statue. He's sort of an inverted Oscar: Equally bold and naked and shiny, he's a lot less muscular or broad-shouldered, sporting instead a pot belly to balance his large, puzzled head.

The awards ceremony will be held in Bucharest in late March.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cold Cannot Stop Us: Our Most Memorable Screening in France

Audience marching between screening locations in the freezing cold. Photo courtesy of Cousou Main (c) Sandrine Balade

Last night we had an epic screening in the Festival Étoiles Francophones, in the words of Miruna Coca-Cozma: The boiler in the Magic Cinéma de Bobigny broke on account of the freezing temperatures, and the entire audience dutifully marched to a nearby library. 

Everyone stayed for the screening and the Q&A, despite the cold and the unusual logistics. We had an animated after-screening debate with Julie Biro from CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Director Miruna Coca-Cozma, and Philippe Goossens from Amnesty International France - and a fully defrosted audience. We were especially honored by the presence and participation of teachers working with Roma children (from Romania and elsewhere) in integrated schools in Bobigny. 

We clearly have an audience that's not only devoted, but very disciplined and patient. Grand merci! And thank you to the organizers of the festival, Cousu Main, for making this possible against the odds, to the Elsa Triolet Library for their last-minute hospitality, and to our partners at Amnesty International for being there for us, as always. 

This is by no means our last screening in France - but it will certainly be the most memorable!

After-screening discussion. Photo courtesy of Cousou Main (c) Sandrine Balade