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In 2006, officials in Târgu Lăpuş, a small town in northern Romania, get European Union grants to close the shabby school for Roma (or Gypsy) children on the town’s outskirts and integrate them into a school downtown. That high-minded premise is about as uplifting as this film gets. The Romanian authorities, both at the school and in the town government, say all the right things about their desire to treat the Roma kids just the same as everyone else; they then spend the money earmarked for integration on a complete renovation of the Roma school, intending to keep them separate. A ruling from the European Union human rights commission foils that plan, but the town finds another way to segregate the Roma. Their teachers treat them like animals to be pitied, and maybe feared, not like students. The filmmakers underscore the hypocrisy subtly, because the Roma kids they follow—9-year-old Alin, 12-year-old Beni, and 17-year-old Dana—make it heartbreakingly clear that they know they’re getting screwed.
Thursday, June 23 at 2:30 p.m. at AFI Silver 3; also on Saturday, June 25 at 5:30 p.m. at AFI Silver 2.