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Somewhere Better

Piercingly bleak docu on the hot-button issue of asylum-seekers in contempo Britain, "Somewhere Better" follows agonizingly slow downward spiral of an extended Romany (read: gypsy) family. Pic, which has aired on Czech TV in April and on BBC4, deserves international broadcast life and is a good fit for human rights oriented fests and organizations.

Piercingly bleak docu on the hot-button issue of asylum-seekers in contempo Britain, “Somewhere Better” follows agonizingly slow downward spiral of an extended Romany (read: gypsy) family. Pic, which has aired on Czech TV in April and on BBC4, deserves international broadcast life and is a good fit for human rights oriented fests and organizations.

When matriarch Esther dies unexpectedly in England, her two sons Honza and Zdenek Kovac — who have already been stripped of their Slovak citizenship and are awaiting asylum in Blighty — are faced with the traumatic decision of whether to either bury her on foreign soil or abandon their dream and take her body home. As they await the government’s verdict alongside their eight sisters, they endure a litany of woes brought on by grief, poor judgment and bad luck. Married filmmakers Mira Erdevicki and David Charap made fine 1999 docu “Black and White in Color” on Roma singer Vera Bila. Their two years with the Kovac clan and refusal to judge family’s decisions results in pic that isn’t without a tattered dignity but pointedly exposes human toll when naive yearning meets modern policy.

Somewhere Better

U.K.- Czech Republic

Production: A Stampede, Arcimboldo (London) production for BBC Storyville, Czech TV. Produced by David Charap, Mike Chamberlain. Directed by Mira Erdevicki.

Crew: Camera (color, video), Marek Jicha, Dirk Nel; editor, David Charap; music, Zdenek Bartak. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (Special Video Screenings), July 10, 2003. Running time: 78 MIN.

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