The Last of us

The documentary work „Cikória“ shows part of the life of a small Roma settlement in Hungary.

Close to the Slovenian and Croatian border the through road 74 connects two federal capitals of Hungary. Somewhere in the middle of it an unremarkable dirt road with no signs or whatsoever leads to a cluster of a few old farmhouses.

Due to its remote location in the middle of nowhere west of Lake Balaton the settlement inhabited by a handful of Roma people appears quite picturesque. It would have been an almost perfect setting for the images of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, when the upcoming bourgeoisie projected their desire of a simple and free lifestyle onto gypsydom.

While romanticization is prevalent until today, it’s more harmful brother, the discrimination through negative stereotyping is and always was propagated to a much greater extent. And rather is the cause for the remote location of the settlement than any romantic interpretation would suggest.

Though Roma are an integral part of Hungarian society since centuries, the great majority is leading a life on the edge of society. With an average life expectancy that’s ten to twelve years less than for non-Roma, an increasing number (45 percent in 2015) of Roma children attending segregated schools and an disproportionate over-representation in special schools, as well as too many racist attacks to mention here climaxing between July 2008 and August 2009 when six Romani people, among them a 5 year-old child, were killed, and 55 others injured, in a string of racist attacks in rural Hungarian villages.