(R)OMA: a (family) history

Breda, 2015 - 2022. Why do some people manage to build a secure life, while others fail? Why are people afraid of others? A movie (45 min) and cinematic installation (47 min) in collaboration with Hajrija Salkanovic (†), her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, members of the Hopic family.

(R)OMA: a (family) history
Film still (second chapter). Women from the family re-enacted how ministers and members of the House of Representatives debated the arrival of the Hopic family in the Netherlands in the early 1970s. The re-enactment is produced in collaboration with Katarina Jazbec.
(R)OMA: a (family) history
Film still (first chapter). Animation: Tess Martin.
(R)OMA: a (family) history
Film still. Title design: Yacinth Pos.

Better life
An older woman from the Roma community does everything she can to find a place in society. But every time the misunderstanding turns out to be too big. Yet she continues to search for a better life with her children and grandchildren.


Since 2015, I've been working on a film with the Hopic family. The story is based on a series of interviews with Grandma Hopic. Interventions have been made in her story with four film makers. Each time a different layer in the family history is highlighted.


The family tells its migration history in two parts. At the same time, the shared European history becomes visible from an unusual angle. The film mirrors the prejudices about 'Gypsies', crime, war refugees and poverty over the past 80 years, in media and policy.


The first part of the film tells how Grandma Hopic, Hajrija Salkanovic, grew up in Yugoslavia before the Second World War. An interview in Romani, the language of the Roma, and animation show how the war puts an end to an itinerant existence on the brink of poverty. Many family members perish in the Jasenovac extermination camp. Then we travel with a camera through the forests of Croatia. Here grandma, her family and relatives live like partisans. After the war, she and a larger group of Roma look for a decent life. The search takes them to Rome. But here too they find poverty. Grandma tells that she is traveling with her husband and children to France and Belgium.


Hopic Regulation
In 1971 the family arrives in the Netherlands. This arrival has been carefully documented in newspaper articles, TV broadcasts, questions in the House of Representatives and court decisions. The family receives a temporary residence permit through the experimental 'Hopic Regulation'. Under the Den Uyl cabinet (1973-1977), the residence status becomes permanent. In the second part of the film, this history is reenacted with the family in a film studio.


This film and the cinematic installation with research objects is produced in close collaboration with members of the Hopic family. A screening of the film is always followed by a discussion with one or more family members.

Watch the trailer here.

View from outside. A family portrait with Hajrija Salkanovic and her husband Mustafa Hopic, as seen from outside, when on show at the Stedelijk Museum Breda. Photo: Sas Schilten.
Installation, detail. Handwritten note: "Oma tied this cloth herself. She always carried it with her on her scooter to keep her knees warm." Photo: Sas Schilten.
Installation, detail. Handwritten note: "Serif Hopic made this family tree: a pedigree that shows the branches of the family. Photo: Sas Schilten.
Installation, detail. Handwritten note next to a collection of newspaper articles about the Hopic family: "The media attention for the Hopic family is inconceivable without the role of activists, such as Release Haarlem, and former Provos, such as Peter Schat and Roel van Duijn. Because of the media attention, activists succeeded in keeping the Hopic family on the agenda of national politics, resulting in a group asylum for the family under the Den Uijl cabinet. Photo: Sas Schilten.
Installation overview. Photo: Sas Schilten.
Installation, detail. Handwritten note next to a plaster cast of a fist: "Grandma used her fist as a map. So she was able to explain how she went from the mountains in Yugoslavia (knuckle of the index finger) via Italy over the Alps (knuckle of the middle finger) and then via France and Belgium arrived in the Netherlands (the little finger)." Photo: Sas Schilten.
Installation, detail. Handwritten note next to Ongewenste Vreemdelingen by Wim Willems and Leo Lucassen. "Willems and Lucassen investigated in the late 1980s how the Dutch governments have dealt with foreign 'gypsies' from the early 1970s. Because they use the word 'gypsy', it appears in the film. We do not use this word, because of offensive associations." Photo: Sas Schilten.
Installation, detail. Family picture of Hajrija Salkanovic and Mustafa Hopic. Photo: Sas Schilten.


(R)OMA: a (family) history was on show at Stedelijk Museum Breda between November 2021 and March 2022 and premiered at Chassé Cinema Breda in November 2021.


Award and nominations: Best Editing win, Best Screenplay nomination and Best Director nomination at Social World Film Festival 2022, Vico Equense, Italy.


Part of the collection of Stedelijk Museum Breda and Breda City Archives. 


Hajrija Salkanovic (†), Serif Hopic, Beba Hopic en Nebosa Hopic, Dennis Hamidovic, Michel Hopic, Sofia Hopic, Benjamin Hopic, Gabriela Hrustic, Leonardo Hopic, Ferko Hopic, Valentino Hopic, Sandro Hopic, Zejfa Salkic, Fadila Osmanovic, Cristina Hopic, Marina Hopic, Chanel Hopic, Laura Hamidovic, Claudio Hopic, Juliana Hamidovic-Hopic, Lara Hopic, Lisa Hopic, Victoria Hopic, Jonathan Osmanovic, Johnny Hopic, Sebastiano Hopic, Vanessa Hopic, Ricciardo Hopic and Dino Hopic.


Production: Academie voor Beeldvorming
Concept: Klaas Burger
Direction and research: Klaas Burger and Stefany Karghoti
Interventions: Tess Martin, Lavinia Xausa, Matija Pekic and Katarina Jazbec
Editing: Jesse Immanuel Bom en Stefany Karghoti
Sound design, foley and music: Michiel van de Weerthof
Graphic Design: Yacinth Pos
Camera: Stefany Karghoti, Jesse Immanuel Bom, Fanny Hagmeier, Matija Pekic, Lavinia Xausa, Jacopo Dall'Agnol
Sound recording: Olivier Nijs, Jeroen Stout
Sound post processing: Marco Raaphorst
Translation: Beko Galjus, Paul Öfner
Production: Stefany Karghoti, Monique van de Wijdeven
Advice: Huub van Baar, Amsterdam University; Stefanie Hoeks and Sheila Steijaert, Pandor Jeugdzorg; Paul Öfner; Joep Weel, Rechtsbuiten
Thanks to: Anneke van Elderen, Liesbeth van Woerkom and Dorothé IJsseldijk, Annahuis Breda; Ben Evers, Floris Guntenaar, Gertjan Adema, Fragmented Appearances; Erven Peter Schat; Vindingrijk Kringloopwarenhuis Breda; Jenny van den Broeke, KRO-NCRV, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Witte Rook
Partners: VSBfonds, VriendenLoterij Fonds, Gemeente Breda, Stedelijk Museum Breda, Chassé Cinema, Annahuis Breda, Kansfonds, Provincie Noord-Brabant.


Press (selection):
Documentaire over de Roma familie Hopic. NOS Met het oog op morgen, 2021 (Dutch).
Lint, Roos van der, De knokkels van oma Salkanovic. In: De Groene Amsterdammer, nr. 50-51-52, 2021 (Dutch).
Wijnands, E, Filmproject over Roma in Breda: 'Soms zeg ik maar dat ik uit Kroatië kom, dat voorkomt vooroordelen’. BN De Stem, 2021 (Dutch).
Eden, Daphne van, en Briels, Bard, Kijken door de ogen van oma Hopic. Kennisplatform Inclusief Samenleven, 2022 (Dutch).
Alessandro Gioiello & Serena Gamba, Interviste e confronti: Klaas Burger, artista. Spazio PPP, 2022 (Italian, English).
Zammit, Manuela, (R)OMA: a (family) history - Stedelijk Museum Breda. Metropolis M, number 6, 2022, Appendix New Collection: Acquisitions 26 museums (Dutch).


Movie premiere at Chassé Cinema Breda, 14 November 2021. Photo: Lars De Nijs.
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