Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our School at the Sundance Documentary Lab

Editor Erin Casper working at the Sundance Documantary Lab. Photo credit: Mona Nnicoara (c) Sat Mic Film, LLC
We are the luckiest documentary film project in the world. We had a full, fantastic week at the Sundance Documentary Lab in Utah. A fantastic creative privilege in a stimulating environment, with some of the best advisers - documentary film directors and editors - and filmmaker "classmates" on this earth. A week of continuous feedback and almost round-the-clock work that allowed us to better understand our project, take it to the next level, and generally make more progress in one week than in two months of editing. We're too exhausted to be more specific, so instead we'll share another photo which gives you the flavor of feedback sessions at the Lab:

Editors Jonathan Oppenheim and Erin Casper at the Sundance Lab. Photo credit: Mona Nicoara (c) Sat Mic Film, LLC
The Sundance Creative Producing Summit is next. Can hardly wait.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

How We Do It

Director of Photography Ovidiu Marginean and Co-Director Miruna Coca-Cozma. Photo credit: Mona Nicoara
This is what a shoot for Our School looks like. No, really.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our School at the Good Pitch

This spring we had the chance to pitch Our School in the Good Pitch, a forum initiated by the Sundance Institute and the BritDoc Foundation to bring documentary film projects with a mission before funders, broadcasters and potential outreach partners. Our School was selected for the first North American edition of the Good Pitch, held at the 2009 HotDocs festival forum. We got to present our project to a large table of interested foundations, broadcasters, executive producers and NGOs, and to develop meaningful, long-lasting and (we already know it) productive relationships that will help bring our film into the world and ensure its impact. Added bonus: We got to see Alin, in our development trailer, on a big screen for the first time, before hundreds of people gathered at the forum. Oh, and: The pitch was good. Of course.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Roma Day Message

The Department of State issued this video message for International Roma Day - April 8.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Old Segregated School in Dileu

The segregated school in Dileu in May 2006. Photo credit: Mona Nicoara
This is how the school looked until May 2006, before work began on it. It was a one-room school with no toilet - and often no running water. A wood-burning stove smoked up the whole room in the winter. 

The Roma remember this school being here for generations - at least since the 1930s. They say their grandparents made the bricks - the main trade in this community used to be brick-making, until industrial production put them out of business. It was always a Roma school. There is no memory of Romanian or Hungarian children coming to this school. For generations, those parents who wanted to enroll their children in the mainstream school were directed here. 

The school is about 2 km away from the center of town, where the mainstream school is. Since the Roma are spread out in several communities around Targu Lapus, some children would have to walk as much as 6 km into town, pass by the mainstream school in the center, and continue to walk another 2 km to reach "their" school - the segregated all-Roma school in Dileu.  Dana is one of those children. Alin, however, lives right there, a few short steps up the hill from the school.

The teachers changed at least one a year. Not that it made any difference - every teacher who came through, the parents say, would come in late, around 9 or 10 am, work a bit with the children, then let them out for a long recess. By 12 pm, the whole school day would be over. Extremely few children who finished 4th grade here would be able to go on to the high school in the center of town - let alone keep up there.

When we came scouting, we asked for directions to get the school. We kept passing the building without noticing it, until finally we saw the plaque above the door. Our driver exclaimed: "I thought it was a public toilet!"