Our School (2013)
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Three Roma children in a small Transylvanian town are among the pioneer participants in an initiative to integrate the ethnically segregated Romanian schools. When their school begins to desegregate, Alin, Benjamin, and Dana set out for the city school, optimistic for education and new friendships, even as funds earmarked for integration are questionably used to renovate the old Roma-only school in their village. (c) Official FB
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Critic Reviews for Our School
This documentary unfolds in Romania, but its depiction of multi-generational poverty perpetuated in part by substandard schooling could as easily have been set in dozens of other countries.
"Our School" observes the feinting of small-town officials in rural Transylvania as they try to duck a mandate to integrate Roma children into the regular school system.
The filmmakers spend vastly more time chronicling bigoted remarks from Romanians about gypsy life than they do actual gypsy life, so a minor crisis of perspective hangs over Our School.
Our School does much to establish how that Roma "environment" is reinforced from the outside.
Many of the comments that come out of the teachers and other townspeople's mouths would be downright shocking if they didn't sound like things I've heard in so many American civil rights docs.
Shot on video, the film showcases the stunted development of its protagonists and of a country that seems not entirely ready to let its preconceived ideas about the Roma go.
Like watching the European equivalent of the aftermath of Brown vs. Board of Education, endemic prejudice against the Roma (or Gypsy) people plays out bald-faced in front of the cameras of Mona Nicoara and Miruna Coca-Cozma.
Exercising admirable restraint in its expose of ingrained racism in the Romanian educational system, absorbing docu Our School follows the sad yet resilient journey of three Roma children over four years as they grapple with prejudice and stereotyping.
Through some frankly lovely observational footage, some scenes that are painful to see, and remarkably revealing interviews, the movie doesn't so much press this case as it lets it unfold.
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