American Gypsy: A Stranger in Everybody's Land


Episode Info

Filmmaker Jasmine Dellal set out to record the lives of the Gypsy community in contemporary America and ended up with a story about one Romani-American and his attempts to take on the Spokane, Washington, police department in this documentary. While most Gypsies (or "Roms," as they often call themselves) whom she encountered seemed ill-inclined to talk about their lives or history before a camera, Dellal did find a cooperative subject in Jimmy Marks, who was fielding a $40 million lawsuit against the city of Spokane after law enforcement officers performed what he considered an improper search of his home ($1.6 million in cash was discovered, which Marks claimed were funds from a private community bank, but due to technicalities, only a misdemeanor charge of theft was filed against him). Marks' crusade included a number of public protests, and even an appearance on The Jerry Springer Show, though several Rom witnesses (including his grandmother) suggest that Marks is not always to be trusted. Along the way, Dellal does find several American Gypsies (including a pair of University professors) who shed light on the Rom community, its customs and etiquette, and how they've been changed by modern conditions and concerns.