‘Excellent visual storytelling and narration, definitely recommend this film for the archive.’
The story of the Cigánymesék / Gypsy Tales cartoon series started in 2013 at the Kecskemétfilm Studio under the direction of Ferenc Mikulás and Mária Horváth, who wanted to share Romani folk traditions and combine them with contemporary Roma cultural values. The story of the animation cartoon series contains three episodes: The Gypsy Romani Woman and the Devil (2014), Kalo (2015), and Doja, the Gypsy Fairy (Doja a Cigánytündér, 2015).
In order to create the three animated short movies, the director cooperated with the same Roma artists who are close to their own Romani roots; Magda Szécsi a Romani writer and illustrator, Teréz Orsós, a Romani painter, József Oláh, a musician, and Erika Varga, a fashion designer. This innovation allowed the artists to represent Romani myths and oral heritage while also illustrating tradition with contemporary art through their storytelling skills, fusing drawings, paintings, and traditional music.
As a result of their work, the animation presents loveable and complex Romani heroes and heroines and helps to create a positive representation of Romani communities and their traditions. Myths and fairy tales have a high relevance to Romani history. Furthermore, the Doja the Gypsy Fairy episode clearly illustrates the poverty and exclusion that Roma face. They are dreaming about their own land, and the fairy gracefully strolls down a rainbow to be amongst her community and to help them. Clinging to her long, jet-black hair, they fly with her to a wondrous island, where they can build the Romani land in freedom and live happily in peace. But then, one day, terrible monsters called szülláks attack the village.
The animation series is a combination of modern techniques – the director uses 2D and 3D animations – and contemporary Roma art visuals accompanying the folk tales. Teréz Orsós, a painter and graphic designer, designed the visual background for the animation. She mainly creates warm, earth-coloured genre paintings about the traditions and everyday life of Romani people. The main theme song and background music is in the traditional Roma music style, written and played by musician József Oláh, the frontman of the band Parno Graszt. In the Doja, the Gypsy Fairy animation episode by Magda Szécsi, we can find the ‘bitter fate’ motif of wandering when the community cannot climb on Doja’s magical long hair; instead, they remain scattered throughout the world, and it is their destiny to find one another.
The Gypsy Tales series received several international and national awards: the Doja, the Gypsy Fairy episode received an award at the 12th Kecskemét Animation Film Festival (2015), the special prize of the Hungarian Lutheran Church Lutheran Diakonia. In Stana, Transylvania (2016) it also received the first prize at the III International Ethnographic Film Festival.
In the meantime, three new episodes from the series Gypsy Tales have been completed: How Was Man Created (2017), The Fiery Red Snake (2017) and The Story of the Sun and the Moon (2017).