In recent years, the main problem in Europe seems to be immigration. After the communist block was dissolved, many easterners took their lives and moved to the western side in hope of a good fresh start. As in any story, there were two sides: some of them found jobs, houses and started families whereas others couldn’t integrate and had to do something for their survival, even if it was something questionable. Based on this plot, in the last few years, England was ‘invaded’ by east European immigrants who are still shown to be the cause of all the problems in the United Kingdom.
In ‘13 Shades of Romanian‘, Anda and Dragos Teglas foreground the issue of immigration, highlighting not the best or the worst examples, avoiding at the same time to be propagandistic about their approach on the subject, but they present 13 cases of Romanian immigrants that are living normally in the U.K, some of them with prosperous businesses or with academic statuses, and in the same time the focus goes at one point on a skilled chef or a children’s book author. For many of the potential viewers of this documentary, the distinction between Romanians and Rromani may not be that clear and only after watching ’13 Shades’ they can understand the real clash between these two categories with a very good and at the same time practical example.
After watching it we can say that ’13 Shades of Romanian’ is with no doubt the best documentary feature we’ve had in our competition so far. Everything ranging from cinematography to score is flawless, the characters were smartly chosen and in almost two hours of screening there are no blind spots whatsoever. We tried to find something wrong with this movie but we couldn’t.
Going round and round over the Internet, we came across the infamous series about Romanian immigrants in the United Kingdom, ‘The Romanians are Coming’, made by Channel 4. From our point of view, that series stained the image of a country we know so little about and we think it was slightly propagandistic in a bad way – the proportions of good and bad are tangled and the result is inconsistent.
When talking about ’13 Shades’ we think that the best phrase to describe it is ‘perfectly dosed’. Even though the directors presented 13 cases of Romanian immigrants working in the U.K, they alternated with footages from Romania, presenting the new and the picturesque, the sunny cities and the green villages.
We think that the 13 Shades of Romanian project is praiseworthy and we encourage young filmmakers to do the same with other stereotypical subjects to prove that the general belief is most of the times distorted. On this topic of immigration, comedian Louis C. K had a very viable theory that we all should acknowledge: ‘Of course foreigners steal your job! But maybe, if someone without contacts, money or speaking the language steals your job, then the problem is not with them, is with you.’ Starting from this premise, we have to think twice before we speak our mind, because in the end we might be wrong and we might find ourselves carrying forward the chain of prejudices we all complain about.