Film-making and Police-minority Relations: Slovenian Police and Roma in Shanghai Gypsy
After experiencing riots involving police and a Roma village, a community in north-eastern Slovenia hosted the million-dollar production of a major motion picture, Shanghai Gypsy (2012), which focuses on Roma and criminal justice themes. Several current Slovenian police officers played the role of police while local Roma were ‘extras’ as Roma villagers. This research explored the meaning of cooperating on production of the film for participants from two groups formerly in conflict. The current study consisted of semi-structured interviews conducted approximately 18 months after the film was produced with a sample of participants. We hypothesized that the film participants were able to interact with each other in ways that opened up new modes of communication, improved interpersonal relationships, and aided mutual understanding. Participants indicated that the film was regarded as a powerful means of generating Roma cultural awareness. Both police and Roma tended to downplay the intensity of the original conflict, yet often offered stories and anecdotes that seemed to indicate that relations between the groups had indeed improved as a result of their participation in the film.
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