Film Screening Peter Nestler: Injustice and Resistance

young people with memorial banner Rainer Komers | © strandfilm

Thu, 02.11.2023

7:00 PM

Romani Rose and the Civil Rights Movement

The centuries-old racism directed against Sinti and Roma turned into systematic persecution and genocide under the regime of the Nazis. It is estimated that between 220,000 and 500,000 Sinti and Roma became victims of the Nazis and their collaborators; over 25,000 Sinti and Roma from Austria and Germany were among them. But the end of the Third Reich did not mean the end of racism and discrimination for those that survived. Symptomatically, it was not until March 1982 that the racially motivated genocide of the Sinti and Roma people was officially recognised.

Using archive material and extended interviews, the first part of Peter Nestler documentary diptych traces the ongoing humiliation and injustice that Sinti and Roma people have experienced in Germany and Austria since the Second World War, and their continuous resistance and fight for recognition.

At the centre of his film are the testimonies of the long-term civil rights activist Romani Rose, who has been the head of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma since 1982. Rose lost thirteen close relatives in the Nazi camps. From what he tells about his father and his uncle, we learn about the failure of the Catholic Church to protect the Sinti and Roma, and about the medical experiments they were subjected to in the Neckarelz concentration camp. From the 1970s onwards, Rose has been deeply involved in the civil rights struggle to achieve justice and equality for the Sinti and Roma in Germany. For example, the film covers a hunger strike at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial site in 1980, which Rose took part in – a protest against the decision of the Bavarian authorities to deny the Sinti and Roma community access to important documents relating to their oppression. Gaining much international attention, this strike became an important catalyst for advancing the recognition of the civil rights of Sinti and Roma.

Germany, Austria 2022, colour &. b/w, 115 mins. With English subtitles.
Director: Peter Nestler, Camera: Rainer Komers, Editor: Dieter Reifarth, Sound: Michael Busch, Production Companies: Strandfilm GmbH (Frankfurt am Main) in coproduction with Navigator Film Produktion (Vienna) in cooperation with Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) / 3sat (Mainz) Producer: Dieter Reifarth, Line Producer: Monika Lendl.

A collaboration between the the Essay Film Festival / Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI), and the Goethe-Institut London.
About Peter Nestler

German filmmaker Peter Nestler is among the most important documentarists of our time. His influential work, which is also receiving increasing appreciation outside of the German-speaking world, encompasses more than 60 films – made over six decades, Nestler's films are exemplary documentary works notable for their political and artistic persistence.
Born in Freiburg in 1937, Nestler began making documentaries in 1962, first in the FRG and then in Sweden after 1966, where he still lives today. Until the 1990s, he worked for Swedish television, directing almost one film a year, often in collaboration with his wife Zsóka Nestler (1944–2016). Today, in his mid-80s, Nestler continues his exciting work, which employs a variety of cinematic forms and at whose center stands a sharp analysis of the connections between politics and economics. "In essence," notes one of Nestler's collaborators, "he is shooting one long, big film, like a storyteller eternally spinning their tale. The individual films are merely chapters or excerpts from this life's work."
This is certainly the case for his most recent, two-part film Injustice and Resistance and An Open Mind, which sees Nestler resuming his decades-long examination of the fate of Germany and Austria's Sinti and Romani populations: a major and intense epic about a massive injustice told as a story combining trauma and self-assertion. (Constantin Wulff / Translation: Ted Fendt;  Courtesy of the Austrian Film Museum)