Just the Wind Represents Hungary at Academy Awards

Between 2008 and 2009 six Roma families in Hungary were violently attacked when murder squads set fire to their houses before gunning down the occupants as they tried to escape.

In one attack on February 23, 2009, the house of a Roma family in Tatarszentgyörgy was set on fire by Molotov cocktails. The attackers shot and killed two family members, a father (27) and son (5), as they fled the burning home attempting to escape into the woods. Two other children suffered serious burns. The on-duty police officer and a forensic expert at the crime scene both failed to recognize the victims’ gunshot wounds. The police classified the attack and murders as the result of a domestic fire. An internal inquiry was later launched. The National Bureau of Investigation noted clear similarities between this attack and several cases since summer 2008, which also involved Molotov cocktails, shotguns, and targeted houses on the outskirts of the settlement.

Just the Wind (or in Hungarian Csak a szél) is a 2012 Hungarian film directed by Benedek Fliegauf inspired by these events. The plot is fiction and focuses on a Roma family living close by. The film competed in the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Jury Grand Prix. Just the Wind has now been selected as the Hungarian entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards.

In Just the Wind, news spreads quickly of the murders. The plot follows the reaction of a neighboring Roma family as they respond to the decision to leave Hungary as soon as possible. Fliegauf’s hard hitting drama recreates the atmosphere of fear and suffocating paranoia that pervades in the aftermath of the attack.

Though the plot in Just the Wind is fiction, the story of fear and desperation it depicts, and the violence it documents, is all too true.

This year a record 71 countries will compete in the 85th Annual Academy Awards’ foreign-language category.

“Through Just the Wind we wanted to pay tribute to all victims of racially motivated violence” commented Monika Mecs, producer of Just the Wind. “Unfortunately these kind of racist murders can and do happen all over, not only in our country. This film opens a door onto the human pain and suffering behind these crimes that we can hardly imagine. We as filmmakers can play some small part in bringing the human reality of these terrible events to a bigger audience through Just the Wind.”

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Despite the fact that it does depict the fear and violence in a truthful fashion, it leaves much unexplained. One-sided characters that are not fully developed, scene after scene of silence and landscapes leave too great a distance for the uninitiated viewer to understand all that is happening. I did not feel that it sufficiently portrayed the Roma from a Roma point of view. I don't see this as Oscar material, and believe there are other films that do a better job.

I will try to see this film when it becomes available on Netflix. I try to keep aware of Roma news and will write poery about them when I know enough. I will be sending a play to Dr. Marta Pinto when it is ready.

I am interesting in watching this movie. I have no idea how to increase the impact. When one speak with people about Roma they generally don't understand and are embedded in actual bias. The policy of EU governments is only repression towards the Roma people. They see them only as dangerous people and don't take into account the intercultural richness! There is a huge contradiction between the official EU position about the Roma and the crude reality of official repression against them. I hope this movie could change things and induce a better comprehension of the Roma issue.

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