Festival News 2006 - Web Magazine of the 36th Tampere Film Festival

Sunday 12 March 2006

Romany Life in New Shades of Colour

Tiina Tuominen
Translation: Saana Mäkiranta

The Gypsy Charmer

Mustalaishurmaaja can be seen in the Tampere Film Festival with live music.

This year, a true jewel of Finnish film has been discovered in the archives: Mustalaishurmaaja (The Gypsy Charmer) directed by Valentin Vaala in 1929. The film was last shown in Tampere the year it was made, and now after almost 80 years it returns to charm us all.

Mustalaishurmaaja lay buried in the archives for decades after sound film replaced silent film in the 1930's. For the 100th Anniversary of Film in 1995 this film was discovered and restored in shades of colour. Tampere Film Festival offers the viewers an even more authentic feel, since the silent film is accompanied by a live band Romales, led by Kalle Palm.

– It is a tradition that all feature-length silent films are accompanied by live music, whenever possible. A film with live music on the background is always a unique experience for the viewer. Recorded music can never bring that extra aspect to the situation, says festival programmer Raimo Silius.

Current events inspire  the festival programmers

The Gypsy Charmer

Theodor Tugai starred in Mustalaishurmaaja at the astonishing age of sixteen.

The leading role of Mustalaishurmaaja is played by Theodor Tugai, whom the Finnish audience better know by the name Teuvo Tulio. Both the director and his leading man were surprisingly young at the time. Tugai was only sixteen and Valentin Vaala eighteen when the film premiered. That makes Tugai and Vaala the youngest makers of a feature film in Finland so far.

– Vaala was one of the first directors in the history of Finnish film to have the Roma people and the Romany culture as the central elements of the theme and the storyline. The film also takes a very modern standpoint to the contradiction between the Roma people and the dominant population.

– Alongside Klaani (The Clan) by Mika Kaurismäki, Mustalaishurmaaja appears to be the only Finnish film which doesn't depict the Roma people as thieves or crooks. The Roma people have typically been in supporting roles. This film is special in that it puts the Roma people in the leading role and portrays their culture in a positive and realistic light, praises Silius.

– Generally, we try to look for films that are somehow relevant to the events of the year. This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the first Finnish Romany organisation, Romano Mission. In addition, it has been 50 years since the initiation of the Finnish Advisory Board on Romany Affairs that functions within the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. These two events inspired us to compile the Romano Cinema, says Silius.

Film series about minorities  increase their visibility

This is the second year in a row that Tampere Film Festival is showing a series of films about minority groups. Last year, the focus was on sexual minorities, and the tradition will continue next year.

– In film, the Roma people as a group have been as marginal as the sexual minorities. Next year we are going to be looking for films about the Sami people, Silius reveals.

– I don't think it will take longer than six years before someone makes a film which stars the Somali people, for example. Finland is becoming more and more multicultural, which leads to marginal groups becoming increasingly visible on and off screen.

The word minority is generally used to only refer to linguistic, religious or national minorities. In the international legal usage of the term, a minority is a group of people that

* differs from other minorities in terms of its national or ethnic origin, religion or language

* is inferior in number compared to the dominant population or other larger groups

* does not have a dominant position in the country

* expresses its will to remain a distinct group and preserve its own culture, religion, traditions and language.

In addition to national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, other minority groups are also represented in Finland. Among these groups are sexual minorities, immigrants, asylum seekers and the disabled, for example.

Read more

The passion of the Romany fills up the big screen (FN 10 March 2006)

A Romany can wear a pair of jeans (FN 10 March 2006)

Updated 11 March 2006 16:51

Festival News 2006
Sunday 12th March