‘It is an excellent, sensitive documentary about one of the foremost Roma visual artists: an inspirational encounter with genius, a Holocaust survivor who witnessed unimaginable horrors.’
Damian James Le Bas
One of the central figures of the Roma and Sinti community in Austria – if not in all of Central Europe – and the Romani emancipation movement is without doubt Ceija Stojka, a famous painter and Holocaust survivor. Not long ago, in 2015, an exhibition in Wien Museum (Romane Thana) presented a number of installations, many of which were connected to the artistic Stojka family, whose members (mainly famous musicians) are influential personalities of Roma emancipation.
The portrait made by Karin Berger, who is very close to both the community and the character, maps the relationships between them and, by showing their family ties, reveals the building blocks of their identity. The film contains interviews, but records them in intimate situations. Following the everyday life of the protagonist, it shows how one has to – and can – deal with traumatic memories long after the Pharrajimos. Although the film depicts the suffering of the Roma during World War II, any recollections are embedded in family gatherings and thus traditions are also highlighted.
Archival materials of all sorts (photographic documentation of racial hygiene research during World War II and private pictures from the recovery in the 1960s and 1970s) show the long process of reconstructing identity. The film introduces the audience to the outstanding personality and artistic oeuvre of Ceija Stojka, who uses painting as a self-expressive device, as a source of joy in life, and as therapy – thereby strongly inspiring future generations to overcome discrimination and fear.
Film festivals and press responses: http://www.karinberger.at/filme/ceija-stojka.htm
Nyon, Wien-Viennale, Hof, Diagonale, Thessaloniki, Belgrade, Melbourne, London, Tel Aviv
La Friche, Marseille: http://www.lafriche.org/fr/agenda/ceija-stojka-portrait-d-une-romni-668