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7th International Festival of Romani Film

BABYLON & Grüner Salon, Berlin

Courage to dream: The 7th International Roma Film Festival AKE DIKHEA? (23rd – 29th October 2023) stands under the motto “Decolonise Imagination!”

The world of art is seen by many as the embodiment of freedom, the imagination as a resource of infinite possibilities. In film, in fairy tales, on the screen or in the theatre, everything seems to be achievable.

But when it comes to Roma, the imagination quickly reaches its limits, guided by centuries-old processes of othering and colonisation in the minds of society. Neither the authors of the Middle Ages nor Hollywood or Walt Disney with its 100-year history have managed to create individual, positive and complexly narrated characters of Roma. And although Roma have worked as actors or extras since the emergence of the film medium, their representation has become a stable source of stereotypes. Prejudices Romani people experience throughout their daily lives are intrinsically linked with their representation on screen.

But film can also contribute to combating and overcoming Antigypsyism in current collective cultural memory. It is not just about representation on screen or about showing off Roma as counsellors to the outside world. It is about who keeps control of the narrative.

This year, AKE DIKHEA? has 20 films in the programme that show how filmmakers are taking their stories into their own hands. Under the motto “Decolonise Imagination”, the festival tackles fundamental questions about artistic production and representation: How can we overcome the limits of imagination when it comes to Romani people, when the thought process has been guided by centuries of colonisation in the minds of society? Is there a way out of systemic racism? Can the artistic representation of Roma, the biggest ethnic minority of Europe, ever be done without falling back on racist stereotypes? The results have been a myriad of complex, important stories that feature both the joy and the pain of Romani people’s experience.

We are aware that structural forms of oppression cannot be discussed without addressing intersectionality and sexism: Our film programme reflects this with strands of films focusing on LGBTQI and the representation of Romani women in film.