by Gyula Galyas, Zsolt Balog
The music is in our blood – this stereotyped belief about the Roma was discussed in the latest thematic event of Roma Visual Laboratory at the DocuArt Film Centre. The evening focused on the music section of the Roma culture. Prior to the discussion, parts of Tony Gatlif movies Swing and Latcho Drom and fragments of video reports on Roma musicians by Sosinet.hu, website of the Center for Independent Journalism were shown.
Andrea Pócsik, an organizer of the event said: “Last year we watched documentaries related to the Roma as well, which were analysed mainly with the participation of social scientists, experts, and movie professionals. This year we have tried to comply such materials – not always whole documentaries –, but some kind of compositions or online materials, in which the self-portrayal of the Roma people has a greater emphasis. For instance, the video films of Sosinet can nuance such portrayal much better, not only because they give voice to representatives of many music genres, but also because when shooting these films, the music genre and playing are being placed in the relevant social environment. It is frequently discussed how these video films impact their audience and also they have very diverse social connotations. I believe the importance of these films is how they describe these musical activities and how the society welcomes or sometimes rejects them. They can provide a more detailed and nuanced image.”
Asking Andrea Pócsik to what extent she can use the video films of Sosinet, she replied: “At media analysis lectures, for instance. It is an excellent example how one can act differently from the mainstream media and create the type of image of the Hungarian Roma which other media outlets lack totally.
The music is in our blood – this is a typical stereotype about the Roma. Klára Farkas, who was the organizer of this programme, created a compilation, partly from Latcho Drom and Swing, movies of Tony Gatlif, and a larger, more emphasized part of it was from musical themed video films and musicians’ portraits of Sosinet.
Klára Farkas said that „it is not easy to find internet foras, where exclusively Roma music or at least short videos about Roma musicians can be found, thus we were very happy to discover the films of Sosinet provided via Videa channel”.
Upon asking Mária Bodgán whether music was in the blood of the Roma, she replied: “no, I think that music is not in our blood, that is for sure. I guess this question was rather provocative. It was nicely told to the audience why this stereotype was not true. Of course we ended up at discussing major issues like racism, stereotypes, Gypsies, and hardly talking about music, but after all we turned back to it. Gypsy and music – this is the most typical image among the non-Gypsies about the Gypsies. Apart from this, the first thought is that they are criminals – they steal, cheat, and lie. Here basically we had an informal discussion about these issues and how these contradictions can be solved in society. In the end we also discussed how even movies like these can be used.”
„I frequently read Sosinet. I am actually a fan. Because it is popular and increasingly popular, I use it in my lectures, for instance. I present it as a community site, and I always watch the videos and I learn a great deal from them. For instance I did not know that in Kesztyűgyár (“Glove factory”, a community house), there is a rap reunion every first Friday of the month, where new rap talents can present themselves. I learn a lot from these films, and they make me think. At the same time they are cheerful, especially the musical parts of these rappers. But I saw a rather tragic story, how a really outstanding restaurant Gypsy music band, who wanted to go to Berlin, Germany, but they failed. I think about Sosinet video films that it would be worth telling more about these situations.”