Special thanks to Kate Ryan for calling in to the show today!
If you miss our conversation, listen here.
ABOUT KATE RYAN - Producer/Director
Kate Ryan has been combining her passion for film and other cultures since 2000. Having traveled to more than 27 different countries, she has produced numerous short documentaries highlighting the plight of minorities worldwide.
Her 2007 thesis film, Point of View: A Dogumentary, explored cultural differences in her hometown of Los Angeles. The film won a Student Emmy Award for Best Documentary and was a regional finalist for the Student Academy Awards. Since then, Ryan has directed the TV documentaries Miracles: The Per Arne Drangsland Story and Miracles: The Chloe Glassborow Story, and has worked as an editor on numerous TV shows, including CBS' Emmy-winning Undercover Boss, and AMC’s The Pitch.
A graduate of the California State University, Northridge Department of Cinema and Television Arts, Welcome Nowhere is Ryan’s first feature documentary.
ABOUT THE FILM, WELCOME NOWHERE
The Roma people, also called Gypsies, are Europe"s largest and most excluded ethnic minority. Ten years after a group in Bulgaria were displaced from their homes and into old train boxcars across town and forced to live in squalor to make room for a large supermarket chain, the Roma community has been forgotten by the government. Clashes between the Roma and the companies that relocated them there have caused intense hatred towards the Roma as disease runs rampant and patience wears thin. This shocking example of institutionalized racism, narrated by Academy Award-nominee Ethan Hawke, allows the Roma people to tell their side of the story for the first time.
Welcome Nowhere tells the story of one Roma community in Sofia, Bulgaria, that is the story of many across Europe. Having settled on a piece of government property for more than 50 years, they were eventually kicked out of their homes when a large supermarket chain bought the land. Provided with temporary housing in old train boxcars, the government promised that new houses would be built for them within six months.
That was 2001.
This film picks up nearly ten years later, with the Roma community still waiting for their new homes. Forgotten by the government who placed them there, they still live in train boxcars that are falling apart at the seams. With no showers or toilets, mud and feces fill the ground, and children play on piles of trash that are filled with broken glass. Disease runs rampant, and patience is wearing thin.
Next door to all of this are two companies who have seen their businesses suffer since the arrival of the Roma people. Clashes between them have caused intense hatred toward the Roma, and they complain about the air pollution, violence, and theft that the businesses have had to endure. Despite numerous complaints to the government, nothing has been done to resolve the growing tension.
Stories such as this are not rare across Europe, with discrimination and conflicts between the Roma people and their neighbors happening every day. Because they often live segregated from the rest of society, the Roma culture is misunderstood and often hated wherever they go. With little employment opportunities, they remain stuck in a cycle of poverty with no sign of getting out.
Welcome Nowhere takes the startling stories of racism and puts names and faces to them, allowing the Roma people to tell their side of the story for the first time. Weaving together expert interviews, daily experiences in the Boxcar community, emotional reactions from the neighbors, and the attempts of two social activists to get answers from the local government, this film tells both sides of this heated issue that all of Europe is facing. Acting as a microcosm of a much bigger problem, the Boxcar community paints a complicated picture of one of Europe’s most pressing issues.
Did the mayor have a right to move this community out of their former homes? Why can't the Roma people just move into apartments on their own? Does the current government have any plans to help them? What does the future hold for this community, and European Roma as a whole? Following members of the Boxcar community through their daily lives, Welcome Nowheretells the story of their fight for new homes, better opportunities for their children, and ultimately, their place in the world.