Whilst culture of the gypsy has recently been romanticised in the West and equated with the free, roaming spirit, gypsies have always had a bad name in most of Europe. They’ve suffered extreme discrimination and abuse through the ages and the enmity continues until the present day.
In Romania, gypsies, better known as the Roma, are commonly associated with allegations of squalor, theft, bad language and child abuse. Whilst the Roma aren’t always the model Romanian, things ought to be seen in perspective.
The Roma used to be the craftsmen of Romania, walking in their caravans, settling themselves for a season in the outskirts of cities of villages, living in their carriages and selling their products. They were great brick makers, silversmiths, musicians, spoon makers, goldsmiths, or cauldron makers. Some gypsies try to integrate in Romanian society but it’s an uphill struggle as few are prepared to put their prejudices to the side and welcome them in.
Gadjo Dilo (by Tony Gatlif) is an amazing movie about Romanian gypsies – only the two main characters are actors, all the rest are real gypsies that never acted and they do a fine job.
Another good introduction to the subject can be found in the films of Emir Kusturica, including Time of the Gypsies and Black Cat, White Cat and a classic movie with stunning gypsy music and flamboyant action called Gypsy Caravan Goes to Heaven directed by Emil Loteanu.