Shot over four years, this tender vérité story of three Roma children swept in a school desesgregation project touches on race relations and identity construction, public education policy and teacher training, development aid and poverty reduction, culminating in an outrageous finale that cements the Roma children's struggle in the annals of egregious international human rights law violations.

A poignant, perceptive documentary that points up the need for a change in heart as well as policy, this is highly recommended.

Video Librarian
Synopsis: 

Alin, Beni, and Dana, three Roma ("Gypsy") children from a small Transylvanian village, are among the first participants in an initiative to integrate the ethnically segregated Romanian schools. In 2006, they leave their dead-end segregated school for a mainstream school, optimistic for education and new friendships with Romanians. Their hopes and innocent optimism quickly sour as they encounter prejudice and low expectations, even as the European Court of Human Rights rules on a landmark case that is the continent's Brown vs. Board of Education.

Reviews

Part case study on entrenched racism, part heartbreaking human-rights story, Our School observes the feinting of small-town officials in rural Transylvania as they try to duck a mandate to integrate Roma children into the regular school system.

New York Times - Critics' Pick

Exercising admirable restraint in its expose of ingrained racism in the Romanian educational system, absorbing docu Our School follows the sad yet resilient journey of three Roma children over four years as they grapple with prejudice and stereotyping...Even-keeled pic carries echoes of Michael Apted's groundbreaking Up series.

Variety

Moving and galvanizing, Our School was filmed in color in Romania, but finds racism as shocking as the Lovings faced in the Jim Crowe South. Like watching the European equivalent of the aftermath of Brown vs. Board of Education, endemic prejudice against the Roma (or Gypsy) people plays out bald-faced in front of the cameras of Mona Nicoara and Miruna Coca-Cozma in one small town, where the European Court of Human Rights ordered school integration of Roma children to begin...This quietly observed, yet explosive documentary could be exhibit A in another law suit.

Film Forward

Some documentary films take us far away to reveal what we did not know while other documentaries return us home to confront what we already know. Our School does both...Targu-Lapus is far off in the Transylvania Mountains, yet it mirrors what we know about small towns in the Appalachian Mountains.

Filmmaker Magazine

A moving dedication to the Roma people in Romania, chronicling their incredible resilience and character in the face of perpetual segregation and discrimination...A film that simultaneously made me love even more those extraordinary human beings we call Gypsies, and hate the infuriating traditions of institutionalized racism present in so many modern societies, and so dangerously insidious.

Huffington Post
Director's Commentary: 

Drawing on my own background as an academic working on nationalism and post-colonial studies and human right activist, Our School offers students and educators a detailed view into the mechanics of discrimination and social and racial exclusion, the culture and sociology of the Roma, the realities of human rights work and development aid, the value of diversity and inclusive schooling, contemporary Eastern European politics, and the relationship between teacher training and child development theory. The film has been used in human rights law, East European studies, international affairs, cultural and post-colonial studies, teacher training, and documentary film classes in universities, as well as in anti-discrimination and sensitivity programs in the US and Europe. It has shown in schools from Harvard, Columbia, Stanford and Berkeley to the Central European University and Bucharest University—as well as in small town schools and community groups from Texas to Transylvania.