Suspino: A Cry for Roma

SUSPINO - A CRY FOR ROMA takes an unflinching look at the persecution that continues to plague Europe's largest and most vilified minority. With the fall of communism and rise of right-wing nationalism, the Roma (or Gypsies as they are pejoratively called) have become scapegoats for Eastern Europe's nascent democracies. Because of violent conflicts and discrimination, tens of thousands of Eastern European Roma are fleeing their countries. The film focuses on Romania where Europe's largest concentration of Roma are considered 'public enemies', and Italy, where the Roma are classified as nomads and relegated to living in camps. Here they are denied basic human rights available to refugees and foreign residents.

Aiming to create a 'Gypsy-free' Romanian town, a mayor tries to move local Roma into an abandoned chicken farm, encircled with barbed wire and patrolled by guards with dogs. A Roma family gathers in a Transylvanian graveyard to mourn the death of 3 brothers murdered in an earlier pogrom that also saw the destruction of 21 of their houses. In a squalid trailer camp ten kilometers from Vatican City, a young Roma couple that fled persecution in Romania is trying to build a new life. Instead they end up begging to feed their children. Their nightmare worsens when the mayor of Rome decides to bulldoze the camp to the ground. A Romanian Roma activist seeking asylum in Canada tells a heart-breaking story of a pogrom against his community back home, and explains that this international human rights crisis has its roots in 500 years of slavery in Eastern Europe.

Romania hopes to enter the European Union by 2010 but first must improve their treatment of minorities, especially the Roma. But what hope is there for the Roma when gatekeeper countries like Italy are also in flagrant violation of human rights conventions?

'I had no idea how much I would be affected by watching this intensely moving documentary. I wanted to grab all my colleagues, and sit them down, and make them watch it. If anything will dispel the popular notion that 'the Gypsy's life is a joyous life,' then this will.' Ian Hancock, Director, The Romani Archives and Documentation Center

'The message is passionately stated, yet with great authoritiveness... Kovanic, even though an outsider, is to be congratulated for so successfully presenting an insider perspective by allowing the subjects to speak for themselves.' William G. Lockwood, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Michigan

'I highly recommend this film in both versions. I especially encourage its use in higher education seminar classes, where it can potentially stimulate critical thinking about the subtleties as well as the significance of the Roma and their issues...The film offers introductory multicultural classes a sensitivity exercise for its younger audiences.' David Jim Nemeth, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toledo

'As the first American Romani person to be appointed to the United States Holocaust Council...I am proud to lend support to this documentary film and encourage everyone to see it. This documentary clearly states the racism and persecution my people have faced in past centuries to the present times.' William A. Duna, author Gypsies: A Persecuted Race

'Does an excellent job of calling attention to the plight of the Roma and would provide an excellent starting point to a broader discussion of the problems of ethnic minorities.' Patricia B. McGee, Educational Media Reviews Online

'A gripping, humane documentary that accurately depicts the plight of Europe's vulnerable 'Gypsy' population. Given the political realities in Italy and Romania as well as other countries where the Roma are considered socially inferior, these abysmal conditions are not likely to change much in the forseeable future. This poignant video will remain relevant for many years to come.' Paul G. Conway, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, SUNY at Oneonta

'[The] interviews...blend well with archival newsreel clips to help viewers conceptualize the long struggle these formerly nomadic people have endured...a program which will move viewers and remind us that the 21st Century still faces humanitarian challenges. Courses in contemporary issues and most areas of the social sciences will find this poignant and timely presentation a valuable research tool.' School Library Journal

'A grim but realistic look at the harsh living conditions of Roma in postsocialist Europe... Suspino provides a powerful expose of widespread discrimination against Europe's largest minority... The film would be excellent for classes on eastern Europe and minorities, especially if supplemented with readings on culture, education, health, languages, political participation, and with comparative materials from other countries.' Carol Silverman, University of Oregon

'Suspino: A Cry for Roma is a worthy entry in the documentation of the injustices committed against minority groups and transient groups around the world. Sometimes it feels like so many minority are oppressed that the majority of humans struggle against oppression, and that might ultimately be true. But we, as anthropologists, as teachers, and as human beings must not let `injustice fatigue' immobilize us...Suitable for high school and for college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of violence, anthropology of ethnicity, anthropology of human rights, and European/Roma studies, as well as general audiences.' Jack David Eller, Community College of Denver, Anthropology Review Database


Main credits

Kovanic, Gillian Darling (screenwriter)
Kovanic, Gillian Darling (film director)

Other credits

Director of photography, Rudi Kovanic, CSC; editor, Bonni Devlin; arranger/composer, Lache Cercel.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

European Studies
Race and Racism
Social Justice
Social Psychology


Roma, gypsies, persecution, communism, Eastern Europe, Romania, Italy, pogrom, human rights; "Suspino: A Cry for Roma"; Bullfrog Films