Review: A People Uncounted – The Untold Story of the Roma
A People Uncounted reveals the history of subordinated Gypsy populations throughout Europe and their poignant, often forgotten role in the Holocaust. Cultural music is organically spun amidst scenes of sorrowful children, standing together as their faces reflect the heavy sadness of their relatives’ story. The story is grounded in the personal accounts of survivors, disintegrating formerly held misconceptions of Gypsy people through emotional narrative. This inconceivable history of genocide, marginalization, and perseverance is captivatingly told in a way that captures its brevity, and helps provide justice to the uncounted victims.
From Urbinder Films, this not yet rated documentary has received many positive sentiments in film festivals internationally since it was made in 2011. The director Aaron Yegers’ first feature-length film, for which The Producers Guild of America nominated him for outstanding documentary producer of the year. The movie was shown in Montréal’s film festival earlier this year, and now is available for download on iTunes in Canada.
Roma and Santi people have a robust culture commonly grouped together under the Gypsy name. The documentary highlights the misconceptions and prejudice that they have encountered for generations, many of which permeate mainstream thought today, as Romani people stand as the most discriminated group in the European Union. The romanticized notions of Gypsy peoples as thieves and nomads are recreated to show the diversity of identifying members. Petty thief imagery contrasts with the hippy- lifestyle-stereotyping of the Roma populations that has often led to alienation and persecution in unwelcoming countries. Marginalization sentiments and the soulful melody of a Romani musician connect the story to that of the persecution of Jews in Europe. The Holocaust is recast from the perspective of the Gypsy population that lost over 500 000 lives in concentration camps.
The professional accounts of human rights activists, journalists and historians deepen the significance of the story by providing a theoretical interpretation of the events. One such man calls on the power of the local unit to create an environment where discrimination is not tolerated. The value of community is cast as a crucial element of Romani survival, and a necessary component of prevention strategies for the future. The childhood memory of a Gypsy woman haunts her features. “I was left alone, belonging to nobody,” she says, an impactful moment speaking to the importance of having a strong community to fall back on in times of crisis.
This deeply moving and thought-provoking documentary builds on Holocaust imagery to tell the story of the Romani people in a profound way. If you are looking for a sobering film that skillfully portrays the dynamics of a unique culture A People Uncounted is the right choice. The tragic interviews with survivors are sometimes graphic, and scenes from concentration camps may be inappropriate for some children. Beyond the incredible cinematography, the message of quiet endurance through horrific tragedy makes this a mandatory cultural film.
A People Uncounted is out now from First Run Features Films.