Moved by a sense of outrage, David Scheffel, a Canadian anthropologist, is determined to help the impoverished Roma (Gypsies) rebuild their community in the eastern Slovakian village of Svinia. So-called "white" Svinia is a picturesque, typical Slovak village with well-kept homes, gardens, a store and a school. Some 300 metres past the last home is "black" Svinia, where the Roma live. In lives characterized by decay and despair, the Roma dwell in squalid tenement blocks and one-room huts of sticks and mud--with no clean water or sewage facilities and with little hope of employment. Many Svinians, whose homes and gardens are regularly burglarized by the desperate Roma, have lost all patience and sympathy. In terrible fits of rage, some praise Hitler's policy of trying to exterminate them. Throughout Eastern Europe, the painful transition from communism to democracy has relegated the Roma to the farthest, most grotesque margins of society. The Gypsies of Svinia is a testament to the firm resolve of Scheffel and the Roma to make things better.
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The Gypsies of Svinia, John Paskievich, provided by the National Film Board of Canada