Korkoro

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Korkoro
DVD cover for the movie, with a lady in Roma attire in the foreground, her face partially outside the frame, we can see her lips, chin and nose. In the background can be seen three men: one with grey hair, one with long black hair and the last with a hat on. The man with grey hair is shown about to jump. There is also a woman in the background, with not much of her in focus, except that she is wearing purple ethnic clothing.
American DVD cover
Directed by Tony Gatlif
Produced by Tony Gatlif
Written by Tony Gatlif
Starring Marc Lavoine
Marie-Josée Croze
James Thiérrée
Music by Delphine Mantoulet
Tony Gatlif
Cinematography Julien Hirsch
Edited by Monique Darton
Production
company
Production Princes
France 3 Cinema
Rhone-Alpes Cinema
Distributed by UGC Distribution
Release dates
  • August 2009 (2009-08) (Montréal Film Festival)
  • 24 February 2010 (2010-02-24)
Running time 111 minutes
Country France
Language French
Romani

Korkoro ("Alone" in the Romani language) is a 2009 French drama film written and directed by Tony Gatlif, starring French actors Marc Lavoine, Marie-Josée Croze and James Thiérrée. The film's cast were of many nationalities such as Albanian, Kosovar, Georgian, Serbian, French, Norwegian, and nine Romani Gatlif recruited in Transylvania.

Based on an anecdote about the Second World War by the Romani (Gypsy) historian Jacques Sigot, the film was inspired by a Romani who escaped the Nazis with help from French villagers. It depicts the rarely documented subject of Porajmos (the Romani Holocaust).[1] Other than a band of Romani people, the film has a character based on Yvette Lundy, a French teacher who was active in the French resistance and deported to a concentration camp for forging passports for Romani. Gatlif had intended to make a documentary but the lack of supporting documents led him to present it as a drama.

The film premiered at the Montréal World Film Festival, winning the Grand Prize of the Americas, amongst other awards.[2] It was released in France as Liberté in February 2010, where it grossed $601,252; revenues from Belgium and the United States brought the total to $627,088.[3] The film's music, composed by Tony Gatlif and Delphine Mantoulet, received a nomination in the Best Music Written for a Film category at the 36th annual César Awards.

Korkoro has been described as a "rare cinematic tribute" to those killed in the Porajmos.[4] In general, it received positive reviews from critics, including praise for having an unusually leisurely pace for a Holocaust film.[5] Critics regarded it as one of the director's best works, and with Latcho Drom, the "most accessible" of his films. The film is considered to show Romani in a non-stereotypical way, far from their clichéd depictions as musicians.

Plot[edit]

The film is set during World War II in rural Vichy France, and begins with a nine-year-old French boy, Claude (Mathias Laliberté) escaping from an orphanage. He decides to avoid state protection. He meets a Romani caravan, an extended family of 20 men, women and children, who decide to adopt him. The Romani start calling Claude, Korkoro, the free one. Fascinated by their nomadic lifestyle, Claude decides to stay with them.[6]

The caravan sets up camp outside a small wine-growing village, hoping to find seasonal work in the vineyards and a place to sell their wares. The village, as was the trend, is divided into two factions—one welcomes the Romanies, and the other sees them as an intrusion. Théodore Rosier (Marc Lavoine), the village mayor and veterinarian, and Mademoiselle Lundi (Marie-Josée Croze), a school teacher and clerk in city hall, are two of the friendlier villagers. The Vichy France gendarmerie used the documentation made in the passports of its citizens to monitor their movements for which a threshold was set, along with imprisonment for violations This adversely affected the Romanies. Lundi uses her powers as a clerk, and forges their passports, removing the documentation about their movements.[5]

Later, when Rosier has an accident outside the village, he is rescued by the Romani, who treat the mayor with their traditional healing practices. He sells them his father's house, in order to protect them from the Fascist policy of imprisoning the homeless. Lundi enrolls the children in her school. The freedom-loving Romani recognize that these French are trying to help but struggled with life in a fixed place and the rules of formal education.

When the Nazis arrive, Rosier and Lundi are revealed to be members of the French Resistance; they are arrested and tortured during interrogation. The Nazis round up the Romani and send them to concentration camps. Claude, cared for by Rosier, chooses to go with the Romani.[6]

Production[edit]

Background[edit]

Further information: Porajmos, Antiziganism

During World War II, the Porajmos was the attempt by Nazi Germany, the Independent State of Croatia, Horthy's Hungary and their allies to exterminate the Romani people of Europe.[7] Under Hitler’s rule, both Romanies and Jews were defined as "enemies of the race-based state" by the Nuremberg Laws; the two groups were targeted by similar policies and persecution, culminating in the near annihilation of both populations in Nazi-occupied countries.[8] Estimates of the death toll of Romanies in World War II range from 220,000 to 1,500,000.[9]

Because Eastern European Romani communities were less organised than Jewish communities, Porajmos was not well documented. There also existed a trend to downplay the actual figures, according to Ian Hancock, director of the Program of Romani Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.[10] Tony Gatlif, whose films mostly have Romanies as subjects, had long wanted to make a documentary on this less well-known subject, but the lack of enough documented evidence coupled with the absence of accurate pre-war census figures for the Romanies made it difficult.[11]

Development[edit]

Gatlif's quest began in 1970 when he approached Matéo Maximoff, a French writer of Romani ethnicity. The two went to Montreuil to interview the Romanies there who refused to discuss the subject. Gatlif was also researching the Justes, the French who attempted to shield the Romanies from persecution.[12] Following former French President Jacques Chirac's efforts to honour the Justes,[13] Gatlif came across Yvette Lundy,[11] a former schoolteacher in Gionges, La Marne, who had been deported for forging documents for the Romanies.[14] Gatlif came across an anecdote by Jacques Sigot, a historian who has documented the Porajmos,[15] which would later help with the story.[11] The anecdote is about a Romani family saved from being sent to the camp at Montreuil-Bellay by a French lawyer who sold them his home for a single franc. Unable to adjust to a stationary lifestyle, the family took to the streets, which led to their arrest in northern France and eventual incarceration in the Auschwitz concentration camp.[12]

The characters in Korkoro are drawn from Sigot's anecdote. The film traces the Romani familia's life during the war, from their disbelief at being forbidden to travel but also being rejected by others when they stay in one place, to their arrest, incarceration, liberation with the help of a local French mayor and a notary, their struggle to live in a non-nomadic way, and then final arrest before being sent to the Death Camps. The character Théodore Rosier is based on the notary in the anecdote.[11] The other Juste character, Lise Lundi, is based on Yvette Lundy and an old teacher of Gatlif's from Belcourt in Algeria who was a communist and an aide with the Front de Libération Nationale (National Liberation Front).[12]

Intended to be a documentary, Korkoro became a drama because of the lack of sufficient supporting documents. Gatlif wrote the initial script in one month; further modifications later followed which made the film's style a narrative by the characters Rosier and Lundi. Gatlif used Lundy's help to write the scenes related to her, to which he added his own experiences with his teacher. The first appearance of the Romanies in the film is inspired by the way the nomadic Romanies showed up in the middle of nowhere after Gatlif had been working on the characterisation for over a year. Another year was spent in developing Taloche's character.[11]

A man is shown seated on a chair, enacting a drama scene, with his hands below his face, and his eyes closed. His clothes are torn and we can see a belly fold on his rather flat and smooth tummy including his navel.
Mugshot of a woman with blonde hair and grey eyes. She is smiling; we can see her dimples.
Face shot of a man with light eyes and close cut hair.
Principal cast : James Thiérrée (top), Marie-Josée Croze(middle) and Marc Lavoine(bottom)

Casting[edit]

Gatlif wanted to represent the entire Romani community through the characterization of Félix Lavil dit Taloche's naiveté and purity. For example, Taloche is shown as being afraid of ghosts, which echoes the Romanies' phobia. For Taloche's role, Gatlif needed a musician with acrobatic skills, which was very hard to find. In Paris at the Théâtre de la Ville, he was impressed James Thiérrée, a grandson of Charlie Chaplin. A non-Romani, (though Chaplin's grandmother was Romani) Thiérrée learned Romani and Gypsy swing music in six months.[11]

For Théodore Rosier, Gatlif wanted someone who looked like a typical Frenchman of the time, with a "voice and face a little like that of Pierre Fresnay, Maurice Ronet, Jacques Charrier or Gérard Philippe", which he found in Marc Lavoine.[11] Marie-Josée Croze was the obvious choice for Mademoiselle Lise Lundi. Gatlif had envisioned Lundi as being like a "Hitchcock character: fragile, mysterious and strong".[11]

Pierre Pentecôte, the militia character played by Carlo Brandt, was presented with a pitiful look, rather than a caricature villain. Gatlif depicted him as a character with a drooping hat and a few extra pounds to symbolise the fat militia of the period. The orphan, P'tite Claude, was played by Mathias Laliberté. Rufus was chosen by Gatlif for the role of Fernand because of his typical French looks. Puri Dai, the grandmother, was played by Raya Bielenberg, a Soviet-born Norwegian artist and 2005 recipient of Oslo City art award, who uses music and dance in an effort to make the Romani culture better known in Norway.[16] Gatlif found her in Oslo.[11] The other notable characters in the movie, Darko, Kako, Chavo, Zanko and Tatane were played by Arben Bajraktaraj, Georges Babluani, Ilijir Selimoski, Kevyn Diana and Thomas Baumgartner respectively.[11] A minor character named Levis was played by then 11-year-old great-grandson of Django Reinhardt, a virtuoso jazz guitarist and composer of Manouche gypsy ethnicity.[17] The cast included people of many nationalities, Albanian, Kosovar, Georgian, Serbian, French and Norwegian along with the nine Romanies Gatlif found living in extreme poverty in Transylvania.[11] Arrangements were made for these Romanies to stay in France for the three to four months it took to shoot the film.[12]

Filming[edit]

The film was shot in Loire, in the Monts du Forez, Rozier-Côtes-d'Aurec and Saint-Bonnet-le-Château.[18] The tools used in the movie, which were very similar to the ones employed in 1943, came from Transylvania. The barbed wire fences of the concentration camps are genuine ones built by the Nazis in Romania which can be differentiated from the ones used for cattle by their denser spacing.[12]

The male actors were asked to grow their hair and moustaches. The actors also had to diet to lose weight to achieve the look of World War II characters.[11] The costumes had a faded look, a reflection that people of the period owned few clothes, often only two outfits. None of the actors knew the script in advance and were only informed each night before of what they were to do in their daily scenes. The Romanies were not aware of the historic events that were the basis of the movie, and were only told that the story was set in hard times comparable to Ceaușescu's tenure in Romania.[12] In the scene where the Romanies revolt against the police over the death of Taloche, they were made aware of the character's death only when the scene was being shot, leading to a genuine outpouring of emotions, making their fight with the police appear more real. Gatlif later remarked in an interview that this scene stands for the actual revolt[12] by the Romanies in Auschwitz on May 16, 1944.[19]

Thierrée was the only actor allowed to improvise. His characterisation of Taloche was built on spontaneity, and in many instances, Gatlif had no clue how he would act in a scene, such as in the tap scene in which he plunges into a stairwell. In another scene, in which he dances with war music in the background, Thierrée pretended to make love to the earth like an animal. Gatlif, who had wanted the character to have the ability to sense forthcoming danger, like animals often do, stated that Thierrée was suitable for the role because he is very much an animal. The dance scene where Taloche is shown falling from a tree was done without stunt doubles.[11]

Music[edit]

Liberté
Soundtrack album Korkoro by Various
Released March 2, 2010 (2010-03-02)
Genre Soundtrack
Length 50:52
Language French
Label Universal France
Producer Tony Gatlif

Music plays a very important role in all Gatlif's films, such as Latcho Drom and Gadjo dilo, Scott Tobias noted in his review for NPR.[4] Korkoro is no exception: the importance of music is evident from the opening credits in which barbed wire fences vibrate to the tune of plucked strings of a guitar and a cymbalum in line with the opening lines of the screenplay, "the barbed wire sings in the wind",[17] to the oddest tools used to make music, such as the clanking of buckets and wagon wheels.[4]

The background score was composed by Tony Gatlif and Delphine Mantoulet. The main theme of the songs is the Romani association with France. Despite the sad story, there are cheerful tracks too, with pieces for the waltz, tarantella and java. The film's music plays a prominent role from the opening credits to Catherine Ringer's track in the closing credits, "Les Bohemians", a waltz piece written by Gatlif and Mantoulet, which is described as setting the tone for the film.[20][21] "Les Bohemians" is the first French song ever featured in a Gatlif movie. Gatlif chose Ringer for the track, inspired by the "blood in the mouth" feel to her voice. The song translates as "Good luck to you all, if anyone worries that we’re gone, tell them we’ve been thrown from the light and the sky, we the lords of this vast universe."[11] The java dance piece composed by Delphine accompanies a scene where the characters secretly congregate in a barn for dancing, signifying the scenario then when public gatherings were prohibited.[17] The track "Un Poulailler A La Bastilles", sung by Gatlif's son Valentin Dahmani, plays on the existing stereotype of Romanies as chicken thieves. The film also incorporates sound effects of horses, explosions and a watch mechanism. The soundtrack also has a tune of the "Le Temps des cerises", the revolutionary song of the Paris Commune. The music for the song's version in the movie was composed by Gatlif, using clockwork sounds and banjo. Other soundtrack vocalists included Kalman Urszuj, Sandu Ciorba and Ikola.[20]

A soundtrack album was released in February, 2010. It was nominated for the César Award in 2011 in the category Best Music Written for a Film, but lost to Alexandre Desplat's The Ghost Writer.[22] Korkoro '​s soundtrack is said to invoke mixed feelings like good humour, nostalgia and fear, creating a universe parallel to the film.[20]

Themes and analysis[edit]

Kokoro has been compared to Schindler's List, a well-known Holocaust movie.[4] In his directing style Gatlif juxtaposed the vibrant Romani culture against the backdrop of war.[21] In particular, reviewers commented on the subtle manner in which he dealt with the horrofic aspects of war, and the manner in which he portrayed the Romanies in a non-stereotypical way. In addition to the Romani characters, the film also has a spy for the French Resistance and a Dickensian orphan.[4] Critics also made comparisons between the state of the Romanies in the film, set during World War II, and their circumstances in the present.[23]

Holocaust elements[edit]

Critics compared Korkoro to Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List because of the sacrifices Rosier made to protect the Romanies from the Nazis. A review in Moving Pictures Network called it "Schindler's List minus the happy ending", citing a lack of comic relief, creating an inability to connect with the audience.[23] The opening scene, a close-up shot of barbed wire fences stretched along wooden posts with internment camp barracks in the background, is an image common to many Holocaust films, wrote Scott Tobias, who also commented on the "Schindlerian" actions of Rosier who gives his home to the Romanies—an assessment backed up by Eric Hynes's review in Time Out, New York.[4][24] Sophie Benamon at L'Express observed that Gatlif dealt with the horrors of the Holocaust by hinting at them through symbolism, such as portraying an abandoned child, suggesting imprisoned parents, and a clock with Hebrew markings seen lying abandoned in the middle of the railroad tracks, implying the passage of a train taking Jews to a ghetto.[25] Jr Glens Heath, writing forSlant Magazine, remarked that Gatlif's characterisation of the incomplete historic archives with which he was presented made the film a very "personal WWII historiography", where the characters "transcend victimisation" rather than mire themselves in melodrama, regarded as a typical Holocaust movie characteristic.[26] Michael Nordine wrote for Hammer to Nail that this film cannot be compared with Life is Beautiful and other "uplifting tales" with Holocaust themes because of its straightforward portrayal of realistic events.[27]

Gatlif's "Gypsy soul"[edit]

Three men are shown topless with black coloured pants on, beating hot iron. The man on the left holds the red hot iron in position while the one in the centre is shown about to strike, with the one on the right watches. The man in the centre is wearing a hat, while the other two sport unkempt hair. The man watching also has a towel on his shoulder. A girl is also in the picture, but hidden partially by the man on the left. The men have a slim muscular body with slim waists and are sweating profusely. We can see the well formed biceps of the man on the left who is striking the hot iron.
In Korkoro, the Romanies are shown with many skills, including blacksmithing and healing, along with the stereotyped depiction of their affinity to music.[4]

There were many reviews on the way Gatlif has depicted the Romanies, comparing it with their portrayals in his earlier movies. A reviewer in Variety said that the film's central theme lies in its depiction of the "Gypsy soul", which is its unique element, rather than its rather clichéd portrayal of the Holocaust.[28] Tobias noted that Gatlif has depicted Romanies as "a tight, syncopated unit than a motley collection of individuals", citing a scene where the members of a group are distressed, even though they have escaped from a ghetto, until a missing person rejoins them.[4] Unlike his earlier films, in which the Romanies were stereotyped as musicians, Korkoro depicts them as possessing many other skills, for example as healers and blacksmiths, and that its portrayal reveals their communitarian side along with their respect for unique individual qualities, stated Odile Tremblay at Le Devoir.[29] Brian Lafferty's (East County Magazine) comments were quite the opposite, complaining that the characterisations were "bland and generic with no unique identity" except for Taloche's, which was considered more of an annoyance.[30] Rachel Saltz at The New York Times attributed Korkoro's "unexpectedly leisurely quality" to the Gypsy way of living, their music, colours and bond with nature.[5] The film also depicts the Romanies' aversion to being tied down to one location, observed Harvey Karten at Arizona Reporter,[31] and some of their customs, such as silencing the sounds of horse's hooves with cloth bags, according to The Village Voice '​s reviewer Nick Schager.[32] Dan Bennett at North County Times approved of the appropriate costumes used in the movie, making it "a visually stylish and detail-friendly look at the nomadic lifestyle" that prevailed at the time.[33]

Freedom as a theme[edit]

A few critics suggested freedom as a theme in light of the importance shown by the characters to it. True to its title, which is a Romani word for freedom, Gatlif used his freedom to direct a tangential, poignant romantic story with the historical documents available to him, unlike other movies with similar themes, remarked Jacques Mandelbaum at Le Monde.[21] The Village Voice review declared that it is "a magnificent paean to the mad ecstasy of freedom".[32] The Arizona Reporter review added that, for the Romanies, freedom means "being able to keep in motion, that is, the journey, not the destination, is the reward". It observed the importance the characters give to freedom, citing the scene where Taloche becomes concerned that water is being "held against its will" in the taps, and "releases" it to overflow the sink onto the bathroom floor, and then the stairs, with Taloche blissfully sliding down the stairs as if he were on a Disney ride.[31] Alexis Campion at Le Journal du Dimanche remarked that Gatlif has refreshingly portrayed the Romanies as "free-spirited" characters and added that this historic film is a tribute to those free souls who take to the streets even today.[1] The Télérama review was of the opinion that the movie runs out of steam during the scenes depicting historic events, but gains momentum in the forests and on the roads, where its characters' passion for freedom, and hence Lavoine's and Croze's characters, get sidelined by that of Thierrée's, with his St. Vitus' dance and Dostoyevsky-like ruminations.[34] It added that Taloche is the true "incarnation" of freedom.[34]

Mirroring the current times[edit]

A section of critics wrote on the relevance of the movie to the current times. In an interview, Gatlif stated that he wanted the movie to mirror the current times, adding that the times have not changed much, and that while the political extermination has gone, the psychological and political views of Romanies have not. He criticised the French law that allows wanderers to stay in one place only for 24 hours. He was also critical of the plight of Romanies in Hungary, Romania and Italy.[11] He went on that the state of the Romanies now in many places, "with the rows of homeless people waiting for a bowl of soup with a tin can on their hands", is not very different from that in the concentration camps.[12] Gatlif also lashed out against the fact that until 1969, Romanies were required to have their papers stamped at a police station or city hall whenever they arrived at or left a French village.[11] Bob Hill at Moving Pictures Network remarked that the movie draws parallels to the fact that "we are once again veering toward a culture in which regimes and wealth determine who has the right to live free — and who has no rights at all", and cited present happenings such as the developments in the Middle East, racial wars and inter-country disputes. It added that the movie makes the audience ask themselves if they live in a society that embraces or condemns diversity.[23]

Release[edit]

The film premiered at the 2009 Montreal World Film Festival, contending in the World Competition section, reserved for world and international premieres, for the awards Grand Prize of the Americas, Special Grand Prix of the Jury, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Artistic Contribution, and Innovation Award.[2] Alongside the film, Gatlif released a novel under the same name, Liberté, which he co-authored with the French novelist Eric Kannay. The book follows the film's script.[12][35]

In 2009, it vied with films with historical themes for the Prix du film d’histoire at the Festival international du film d'histoire de Pessac.[36] The 2010 Alliance Française French Film Festival screened it in the Resistance section, with other films dealing with themes of oppression and resistance.[37] Later in 2010 it competed in the official section, reserved for Mediterranean films, for the Eros and Psyche Award and Special Mention/Artistic Expression recognition at the MedFilm Festival.[38] It also participated in the 2011 Providence French Film Festival.[39] Korkoro was screened on the first day of the Santa Barbara Human Rights Film Festival in 2011, along with films on subjects related to human rights ranging from "abortion rights to post–civil-war Sierra Leone and the then ongoing political turmoil in Zimbabwe".[40][41] In the same year, the Ankara International Film Festival placed it in its masters section, along with the works of such noted filmmakers as Werner Herzog, Takeshi Kitano and Ken Loach.[42] The Washington, DC International Film Festival also had a screening of the movie in 2011.[43]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Korkoro was released in France on February 24, 2010, grossing $601,252, and in Belgium on April 28, 2010, grossing $8,252, for an international total of $618,846.[3] Korkoro premiered in North America on March 25, 2011 at New York's Cinema Village, with Lorber Films holding its distribution rights.[44] The film grossed $1,224 over its opening weekend, and ranked 107th at the box office. It made $8,179 in 15 weeks in North American cinemas. This brought the total gross to $627,088.[3]

Critical response[edit]

The film's tone and narrative style received mixed response from the critics. Ronnie Scheib at Variety found it to be filled with excessive pathos, "shuttling between the trite and the sublime",[28] while Odile Tremblay (Le Monde) said in contrary that the film avoided excessive pathos, rendering it funny and tragic at the same time,[29] an observation that was supported by Jacques Mandelbaum at Le Devoir, who wrote that the film mixes humour, sensitivity and drama.[21] Hammer to Nail '​s review by Michael Nordine asserted that the film is "neither a pity party nor an emotionally manipulative attempt", but a straightforward portrayal of things as they were, citing Gatlif's portrayal of the Romanies as "certainly sympathetic, but at no point does it seem overly so."[27] The film provided insufficient analysis on the "anti-roaming laws" and their targeting of the Romanies, observed the reviewer, to whom the Nazi and all other anti-Romani characters in the film came across as "one dimensional bigots".[30] Bob Hill (Moving Pictures Network) criticised that the film failed to strike an emotional chord, unlike other movies and books with a similar theme. He conceded it to be an "important, but not a great movie—or even a particularly good one, for that matter."[23] For a casual movie goer, he stated, " '​Korkoro '​ feels like a slow burn, lagging on long after most of the audience has long since called it quits".[23] In defence of the film's incoherent narrative style, Jr Glenn Heath at Slant Magazine explained that Gatlif intended it less as a historical drama and more as evoking the sense of a memory, imbibing the stream of consciousness techniques. Commenting on its tone, he wrote that "Korkoro is a reserved but lasting examination of collectively silent horror".[26] At L'Express, Sophie Benamon declared that with the film's controlled pace, it keeps its viewers breathless and induces emotion.[25] Alexis Campion at Le Journal du Dimanche stated that the film transcends the stereotypes[1] while the reviewer at Arizona Reporter noted that some might consider it to be stereotyping the Romanies.[31]

On Gatlif's direction, Odile Tremblay at Le Monde remarked that he had taken a heavy burden in directing a Holocaust movie along with coupling it with the "poetic effervescence" that the Romanies are known for. He added that this can be regarded the best among his films.[21] Michael Nordine characterised Gatlif's directorial style as passive and "documentarian", such that it "sometimes verges on emotional distance". "What easily noticeable flourishes he adds tend to be understated", he added.[27] Eric Hynes at TimeOut lauded Gatlif's work in making a celebration of textures and music of the Romanies out of a melodramatic story.[24] East County Magazine '​s negative review summed that Gatlif had too much faith on his audience, "expecting them to take everything at face value".[30]

A man with dirty and tousled hair is seen lying on his stomach on a train track, examining a watch that he is holding with his right hand. His shirt is dirty with mud on it and his gloves are torn, baring his fingers. His shoes are also muddy.
Taloche with the watch with Hebrew script on its dial, suggesting the passage of trains to internment camps. Horror is handled implicitly.[25]

The film's plotting and characterisation was regarded flimsy by Nick Schager at The Village Voice, who added that the film's "robust emotion and cultural detail" offsets it.[32] National Public Radio review by Scott Tobias stated that the film weds the exotic culture of the Romanies to the cliched themes of a war film with its characterisation as its means. With a "Schindlerian" Theodore Rosier, a Dickensian Claude, a hinted romance between Rosier and Miss Lundi, and the clown-like Taloche, it added, Gatlif has "weaved a tapestry out of the authentic and the chintzy".[4] Joe Bendel at The Epoch Times stated that the film avoids simply depicting the Romanies as victims, with its "decidedly unsentimental" central character, Taloche, who is "wild almost to the point of being feral".[45] Sophie Benamon at L'Express declared that the madness of Taloche is the pivotal element of the film.[25] In Taloche's face, Nick Schager perceived that "the film seethes with full-bodied fury and anguish".[32] Arizona Reporter '​s review lauded "Taloche's manic antics" as "both the comic center of the film and a representation of the tragedy".[31] Ronie Scheib (Variety) admired Taloche's characterisation, commenting on his acrobatic stunts and close-to-nature persona as gelling well with the film's title of "Freedom".[28] Lavoine's and Croze's characters also received a positive mention in the reviews at L'Express and The Epoch Times,[45] with Sophie Benamon at L'Express calling them "compelling".[25]

Julian Hirsch's cinematography can be regarded as a relief to the eyes from the film's gory Holocaust theme, stated Ronnie Scheib (Variety).[28] Jacques Mandelbaum at Le Devoir added that the beauty of scenes such as the arrival of the Romanies in caravans in their first scene and the gentle music is a stark contrast to the harsh themes of concentration camps and extermination.[29] Odile Tremblay (Le Monde) made mention of a number of scenes, including the one where Taloche opens a tap to "free" water, and the scene with an abandoned watch implying the ghettos as the best moments of the film.[21] Nick Schager (The Village Voice) stated that the film scores on its aesthetics in sequences depicting key elements, like the one with trains symbolising the Holocaust, and its detailed depiction of the characters' intimate practices, which bring depth to a rather predictable plot.[32] Brian Lafferty (East County Magazine) criticised Julian Hirsch for making the sequences look dull and gloomy with insufficient lighting.[30] The tap scene received a special mention in L'Express '​ review too.[25]

On its historical aspects, Alexis Campion (Le Journal du Dimanche) stated that this is the first French film dealing with the Porajmos.[1] Ronnie Scheib (Variety) lauded the film on its exposure of the French gendarmerie's role in the Holocaust, the reviewer added that this is the most "accessible" film of Gatlif after Latcho Drom.[28] A review in the Independent Catholic News said that the film provides one a chance to remember the forgotten aspects of World War II and to learn more about French prejudice and the persecution of the Gypsies.[6]

The movie received its highest rating of three stars from the reviewers at Le Journal du Dimanche[1] and Slant Magazine[26] while Arizona Reporter gave it a B+ as per its grading system.[31]

Awards[edit]

Year Award Category Credits Won Ref.
2009 Montreal World Film Festival Grand Prix of the Americas Korkoro Won [2][46]
Audience Award, International Korkoro Won [2]
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention Korkoro Won [2]
2010 Festival international du film d'histoire de Pessac Prix du public Korkoro Won [36]
MedFilm Festival Special Mention Korkoro Won [38]
The Time for Peace Film and Music Awards Best Picture & Directing Tony Gatlif Florian GallenbergerJohn Rabe [47]
Founders' Choice Picture Tony Gatlif Won [48][49]
2011 César Awards Best Music Written for a Film Tony Gatlif,
Delphine Mantoulet
Alexandre DesplatThe Ghost Writer [22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Campion, Alexis (February 20, 2010). "Au nom des Tsiganes déportés". Le Journal du Dimanche (in French) (Paris). Retrieved July 15, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Knegt, Peter (September 8, 2009). "Korkoro Leads Montreal World Fest Winners". indieWire. Retrieved July 15, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Korkoro – Box office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tobias, Scott (March 24, 2011). "Korkoro: Freedom's Music, Amid The Din Of War". NPR (United States). Retrieved July 15, 2011. 
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