In “7 Days with Gypsies” Koutaiba Al-Janabi discovers the Roma with whom he had almost no contact while he was living in years in Hungary in the seventies and eighties. By accident he comes upon a village in 2007, while scouting for location for his upcoming feature film. Feeling a connection with the minority in Hungary, their marginalisation, their traditions and ways of life, he goes back to and starts filming their every day life in the small Hungarian village Baks. The Gypsies open up to him, talk about what it is to be Gypsy, about their beloved’s death, their daughter’s wedding, their plans and hopes for their children and their opinion of the previous prime minister – all presented in a very warm film with beautiful horses and great music.
This is a big step for Koutaiba himself, leaving behind the subject of Iraq, his homeland that dominated his work since he left Baghdad at the end of the seventies. This film is also more positive, with a hint of humour that has so far not been present in Koutaiba’s films.With the Csurar Family at the centre of the film, we learn about 4 generations, about their history and traditions.
DIRECTOR BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE:
Koutaiba Al-Janabi is an independent film maker based in London. Koutaiba was born in Baghdad, where his interest in the photographic image and film developed. He work in Baghdad as a photojournalist when he was just a teenager, but had to leave his home due to the threaths from the Saddam Hussain regime. He studied and worked in Hungary in the seventies and eighties, exhibited his photographic work and worked both in film and television. He moved to London in 1990, where he has worked as a Cinematographer on feature films and produced his own films (Still Life, Transient, Wasteland, Baghdadi Correspondent, Against the Light, 7 Days with Gyspies and others) that have been shown in festivals world wide. His photography is also well received, with his book “Far from Baghdad” just published. Strong compositions, an intimacy between camera and subject and the use of natural light are the hallmark of his powerful images.