* Film provoked by attacks against Roma in Hungary
* Uses cast of non-professional Roma actors
* Premieres at Berlin Film Festival
By Sarah Marsh
BERLIN, Feb 16 A non-professional cast of
Roma actors portray a family struggling to survive in "Just the
Wind", a gritty drama inspired by real-life attacks against
Hungary's Roma community which premieres on Thursday at the
Berlin Film Festival.
The film, by Hungarian director Bence Fliegauf, depicts a
family living in a shack in a wood where several other Roma
families have already been gunned down.
Shaky close-ups create an atmosphere of fearful entrapment
and the characters rarely talk, remaining tight-lipped and
steely-faced in the face of the omnipresent threat.
Fliegauf says he was compelled to make the movie after a
series of attacks between 2008 and 2009 on the Roma community
involving Molotov cocktails, shotguns and rifles.
"I was shocked by the events, I remember waking up in my
sleep with nightmares, I saw shotgun flashes." he told Reuters.
"Of course I hope this movie is going to make a difference."
Fliegauf grew up with Roma friends and had a Roma girlfriend
as a teenager, but then lost touch with the community.
He says it was only during his year of research for the film
that he realised how difficult their plight had become since the
fall of communism some two decades ago.
"After the political system changed, of course they were
laid off first and that's when the situation got bad," he said.
The director depicts and denounces prejudices against the
Roma in "Just the Wind". The mother works from dawn to dusk but
is accused of laziness, while the daughter is diligent at school
but is suspected of stealing.
The term Roma refers to various groups of people who
describe themselves as Roma, Gypsies, Travellers, Manouches,
Ashkali, Sinti and other titles.
They have been migrating across Europe for centuries and now
form the biggest ethnic minority in the European Union.
Anti-Roma tensions loom large in Hungary, which has long
struggled to integrate the large community.
Katalin Toldi, who plays the family's mother Mari in the
film although she had never previously acted, said she was
terrified during the recent spate of violence.
"I was wondering, what will happen if they come to my home,
and my father or my child is killed," she said.
At a news conference for "Just the Wind", Hungary's Justice
Ministry surprised the film's crew by handing out pamphlets
stressing it was fictional and highlighting measures taken to
support the Roma.
Fliegauf said he was surprised some people were critical of
the film for painting a negative image of Hungary.
"For the image of a country, it is very important that
social criticism can be treated in a film and that there are no
taboos," he said.
Hungary's government provoked European outcry last year with
a new media law that critics say curbed the independence of the
media and freedom of expression.
The Berlin Film Festival, which runs until Feb. 19, has a
reputation for engaging in political debate -- last year it
became a platform to protest against the arrest of Iranian
director Jafar Panahi.
(Reporting By Sarah Marsh; Additional reporting by Tanya Wood;
Editing by Sophie Hares)