Gypsies, the Professional Amateurs of Life
A 52:47 minute TV documentary
Languages spoken and sung: English, French, Spanish
English, Dutch, Spanish and Hebrew versions are now available
Still, one of the most unique manifestations of societal life is the phenomenon of the Gypsies.
There's no other nation of people that have never written or sang war-songs.
Since their unexplained appearance in Europe (firstly recorded in the fourteenth century) the Gypsies have always struggled for the freedom to live their own lives in their own way. They've been persecuted, expelled, tortured and killed, and yet, they have never initiated any war and they have never sought revenge. They just packed their belongings and went on, carrying with them the eternal belief that life is bound to be better.
The Gypsies live in a world which is totally different to ours.
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The 52:47 minute documentary "We Have No War Songs" celebrates the uniqueness of the Gypsy people, as it covers the seven-day gathering of thousands of Gypsies from all over the world, in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, in the South of France.
Beside the religious ceremony, which is the proclaimed reason of this gathering, in this magnificent and colorful event, the Gypsies have a singular opportunity to meet family members that live in faraway countries. Between the religious processions and the spontaneous singing and dancing in a world that manipulates and otherwise forces them into assimilation, this unique meeting enables the Gypsies to rejoice in their heritage and pass it on to the young.
Having no written texts, and reluctant to expose their rituals to outsiders, the Gypsies seem, in our Western eyes, mysterious, secretive and even dangerous.
"We Have No War Songs" poses the questions of tolerance and of individuality, of the centuries-old Gypsies' culture of carefree, special life-style versus the increasing social pressures of materialism and nationalism.
From the French Prof. Bernard Leblon, a historian who published 4 books on Gypsies, we hear about the core and the origin of the Gypsies and their unique perception of the world.
Ms. Sabina Stumberger, a visual anthropologist from Lubliana university sheds some light on the difference between Us and Them.
We meet many of probably the last of the nomadic Gypsies, who tell us, also through their song and dance, about their grievances and joys. We witness spontaneous "street concerts" of great Gypsy artists, such as the "Gipsy Kings".
And joining their daily life, we learn of how, against all odds, they deal with our mundane politics. In an ever-expanding material world, would the Gypsy remain a symbol of freedom and tolerance? Or would they finally succumb to the lures of the suburbs, central heating and cable TV?
And can we indeed learn from them some ways of life which will make our world a little better? Is there any lesson to be learnt from the Gypsies?
We Have No War Songs was shot in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and broadcast by the Dutch Broadcasting company the EO on the Dutch national channel 2.
Other broadcasts include the USA (PBS), Finland, Spain, Portugal and Israel.
We Have No War Songs was nominated for the Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Montreal (1996) and participated in the Festival of the Dreaming, Sydney, Australia, in September-October 1997; The 18th edition of the Breckenridge Festival of Films, USA, September 1998; Detroit Festival of Film, USA, November 1998; The Barcelona International Festival of Television, Spain, November 1998; East Lansing Film Festival, USA, March 1999; Golden Prague, Special Presentation, Czech Republic, May 2003; In-Edit Music Film Festival, Barcelona and Madrid, Spain, November 2003.
With the participation of: Gipsy Kings: Nicolas Reyes, Andre Reyes, Canut Reyes, Paco Baliardo, Los Cortes: Paco Jimmenez, Juan Mamao, Vicente Mocho, Jose Bobe, Juan Mamao, Francisco Perriti, Juan Deledia, Gerard Thouret, Sukar: Igor Misdaris, Nenad Kokovic, Nenad Ljubotina, Stefan Uranjek, Niha Svent, Zaiti: Jose "Guilic" Adolpho, Charles "Tayoun" Doerr, Piere "Boggo" Adel, Georges "Loy" Adel, Erik "Talino" Doerr, Rene "Gini" Adolpho, Los Primos Cachitos: Chinou, Toni, Pips, Bruno, Jonathan, Chris Laurent * Narrator Colin Scot * Camera Bernd Wouthuysen * Sound Pepijn Aben * Script Izzy Abrahami * Translations: Sebastien Legay, Puck Bower * Off-Line Editor Jeroen Hendriks * On-Line Editor At Buursema * Fascilities Kuijer Film-en TV Produkties, NOB * We wish to thank: Jozien Schreuder * Rob and Mirjam den Boer * Jaap Saunier, Wanda Helms, Sheila Stefleu, NS Travel Group * Armand Kies, Petra van der Meer, Avis * Claudie Barry, Tourist Office, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer * Ilana Stel * Peter Jorna, Stichting Lau Mazirel * Lala Weiss, Sinti * Ruud Wenting, Todor Stambolov, Josef Semah, Hedy Meyling, Carel Kuyl, Paul Cohen, Gerrit Kalsbeek, Mordechai & Miri Chachamu, Garth & Pascale Beattie, Guy Bertrand, Juan Antonio, Biggi and Nathan Jariv, Berthie van Haaren, Peter Smit, Ruth Meyer, Rona Winter, Michel Garnier, Danielle Vaugon, Jack & Silvy Ratier * Associate Producer Robert Stel * Producer Erga Netz * Director Izzy Abrahami