A dramatic story about an amazing musical talent, a 12-year-old gypsy girl from Slovakia, whose life is suddenly turned upside down

Ulla Jacobsen

Jacobsen was previously editor in chief of the DOX Magazine from March 1998 until early 2009. A lot of the DOX articles republished in ModernTimes was ordered by her. After 2009 she worked freelance, until she died in 2013.

The Czech singer Ida Kelarová gets to know about Vierka, a 12-year-old Roma girl with a blessed voice. She and her husband Dezo visit Vierka’s family who live in abject poverty. They feel sorry for the family and want to develop Vierka’s talent, so they invite the family (Vierka, her parents and brother) to live with them in their house, supporting them financially. They get a job for Edo, the father, and enrol the kids in school. They write songs for Vierka, work with her voice and teach the family English.

Everything should be fine, but problems quickly start to appear. It is difficult for such a large family to stay within a budget, the Romas smoke a lot and the mother, Viera, starts to bake cakes each day. Ida tries to get them to understand that they should save, though in vain, and Viera stops doing housework and stops eating. At a ‘truth meeting’ they pick on her, even Edo, who really wants this to work, but eventually the family leave.

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Ida is a strong character and taking in a poor family and trying to make them create a better life for themselves is a good deed. Yet she is unable to fully respect their way of being and living. Ida’s efforts are an act of charity and the relationship is unequal, something Ida fails to understand.

The film consists of several elements. There are observations of life in the family, the good moments, the conflicts, and the practicing with Vierka. Though the camera is not a neutral observer, it plays around, makes contact with Vierka and gets her to act. This is combined with some home-video-like recordings of Vierka showing off, having fun. It introduces a light, playful tone to the conflicts, showing the person it is all about: Vierka as a truly charming and vivid girl. Some of the story is told through letters written by Ida to provide some information about what happens in the story and linking the individual scenes together.

After the family leaves, there is no contact between them but the film crew talks to both parties to find out what went wrong. As in “Kha-Chee-Pae”, Janek also inserts poetic sequences that serve to illustrate a person’s emotions, like near the end when Ida says she hopes Vierka isn’t going to sing in nightclubs to make money for the family, and later we see that this is exactly what happens. Vierka is filmed at the club with the light in her eyes in a close-up, cutting to a shot where the camera pans across a snowy rainy landscape, the images dissolves, and no sound is heard. The tale is over.

 


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