Mona Nicoară and and Miruna Coca-Cozma's award winning documentary Our School will have a special Documentary Spotlight screening presented by the South East European Film Festival, in the presence of director Mona Nicoară.
Our School follows three Roma (commonly known as "Gypsy") children in a rural Transylvanian village who are among the pioneer participants in an initiative to integrate the ethnically segregated Romanian schools. When their school is desegregated, Alin, Benjamin, and Dana set out for the city school, optimistic for education and new friendships, even as funds earmarked for integration are questionably used to build a "Roma-only" school in their village. Their innocent optimism quickly sours when the children are met with low expectations and further isolation. Shot over four years, the filmmakers' tender portrait of rural village life and its rhythms fosters an intimacy in the children's profound reality and admiration for their indomitable spirit, punctuated by shocking instances of prejudice and ignorance. Their story touches on issues ranging from institutionalized racism, public education, and the intractability of poverty, culminating in an outrageous finale that cements the Roma children's struggle in the annals of egregious human rights violations. Our School is an absorbing, infuriating, and ultimately bittersweet story of tradition and progress.
South East European Film Festival, taking place this year May 3 - 7 in Los Angeles, educates about and promotes cultural diversity of South East Europe through its annual presentations of films from this region and year-round screenings and programs. SEE FEST organizes conferences and retrospectives, serves as the cultural hub and resource for scholars and filmmakers, and creates opportunities for cultural exchange between Southern California and South East Europe.