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In the Balkan town of Shutka, the Romani (Gypsy) population is thriving and everyone is considered a champion at something, be it boxing or grave robbing. Aleksander Manic's The Shutka Book of Records gives us a walking tour of this vibrant community, and along the way, we meet some of the colorful "champions." Although the Romani may not have an official national identity, this self-assured and playful documentary demonstrates that they nevertheless have a rich cultural one. Whimsically narrated by one of Shutka's local heros, the film introduces us to the likes of Uncle Sulgo, a "champion" vampire hunter, who paces around town in a black Adidas tracksuit and is quick to dismiss popular vampire stereotypes. As the avuncular man explains, vampires, which are highly feared in the town, are not of human flesh; rather, they are spirits whose great weakness is fire. We also meet Uncle Veso, "champion" love maker and clothing merchant, who has just fathered a child at the age of 75. The boisterous Veso has renamed the mother of his child after the South American television soap opera Kassandra, which the entire town of Shutka watches every week. Although the Roma are not impervious to the influence of Western entertainment, it certainly doesn't dominate their culture. Their rich musical history is still alive and ever-present. As the narrator tells us, "When a child is born in Roma, it cries in melody." Adults are liable to do the same after meeting all the strange and endearing characters in The Shutka Book of Records.
Film Information
Year: 2005
Length: 85 minutes
Language: Serbian
Premiere: North American
Cast & Credits
About the Director(s)
Aleksandar Manic was born in 1966, not far from the Hungarian border in Vojvodina, an autonomous province of the former Yugoslavia. After studying at the Philosophical Faculty of the Cologne University, he moved to Prague to attend FAMU, the renowned film and TV academy. There he directed a short called Astropolitan, which premiered at the International Belgrade Film Festival and earned Mani success early in his career. Mani has worked as an assistant director and translator on commercials, documentaries, and feature films in the Czech Republic. While working as a translator for Emir Kusturica's Underground, he agreed to shoot a documentary on Kusturica called Shooting Days, which has won critical acclaim and has been distributed in many countries.


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