CALIFORNIA – A documentary detailing the discrimination against Romas through the eyes of children in Romania was shown Thursday in California in an attempt to help borough residents understand the struggles of their new immigrant neighbors from Europe.
A large crowd of people packed the borough building to watch “Our School,” the film selected by a local committee working to bridge gaps between local residents and the Roma people who moved to the borough this year while the federal government decides whether they should be deported.
“I’m hoping that by seeing the struggles and persecution through the eyes of these children, that it touched people’s hearts,” said Carla Anderson of California, editor of Pennsylvania Bridges, an online and print publication in Southwestern Pennsylvania and cosponsor of the program.
The 2011 film follows a group of Roma children as a town in Transylvania attempts to integrate them into a better school, where some teachers appear frustrated by having them in their classroom. Eventually, a number of the children are segregated again in a school for students with deficiencies. The documentary, directed by Mona Nicoara, exposes racism and human rights struggles.
California residents gathered more than 1,000 signatures on a petition in July seeking to have the Romas relocated. However, the opposition in the borough has since subsided. Only one of the many Roma child in the borough is known to have been enrolled in school, Anderson said.
Anderson said the discrimination faced by the Roma children in the film might make California residents more sympathetic to the Romas in the borough.
“Policy cannot erase racism,” said George Eli of the Romani Media Initiative, a co-sponsor of the California program.
“But film can do this,” Eli said.
Local attorney Lisa Buday, a member of the committee, said she hoped the film would lead to a better…