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Tony Gatlif (born as Michel Dahmani on 10 September 1948 in Algiers) is a French film director of Romani ethnicity. Gatlif’s first script was based on his experiences of delinquency—La Rage au Poing (Raging Fists). In 1975, he directed his first feature, La Tête en Ruine. Three years later La Terre au Ventre dealt with the story of a French Algerian settler and his four daughters set against the Algerian War of Independence. In 1981, Tony directed Corre Gitano, his first gypsy film, focussing on Granada and Seville. His next feature, Les Princes (1983) was his first critically-acclaimed, and again about gypsies, who had decided to settle in the Parisian suburbs. Tony Gatlif began production on Latcho Drom in 1992, a true tribute to gypsy music. With only a limited crew, he walked the path of the gypsies on a musical journey from Rajasthan to Romania, Hungary and the Mediterranean. Latxcho Drom won the “Un Certain Regard” prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992.


In 1997, Gatlif made the acclaimed Gad jo Dilo about a young foreigner arriving in a gypsy village in Romania looking for a missing singer. Spanish flamenco became the subject of his next feature, VENGO, in a story of two competing Andalusian families. It was a tribute to flamenco music and Andalusia: “I meant it as a song of praise of the Mediterranean”. With Exils, Tony Gatlif’s fourteenth feature film, he again returns to the placeless cultures bound together by music and dance, and to his own roots in North Africa.


Gadjo Dilo / The Crazy Stranger

Romania/France / 100 mins / French, Romanian / 1997

Direction: Tony Gatlif
Stephane, a young French music lover hailing from Paris, arrives in Romania, obsessed with finding a legendary gypsy singer whose voice mesmerize him from his childhood. Helped by old Isidor, the clan leader of the Romanian village, Stephane eases into this chaotic but passionate world of gypsy musicians, alternately picaresque and violent, funny and grating. He falls in love with Sabina, an attractive outlaw, and finds his place in this world of suspicion and xenophobia, where learns the real meaning of tolerance. Prejudice and racism is discussed along with the gypsy culture. The Romanian people, often accused of numerous crimes and demonized by outsiders, are also shown as predominantly positive, yet wronged figures. Music is treated as a major theme for the film.


Brussels International Film Festival, Crystal Star Best Actress
Locarno International Film Festival, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury
Montreal World Film Festival, Grand Prix Special des Ameriques Paris Film Festival, Public Prize
Sao Paulo International Film Festival, Audience Award, Best Feature
Tromso International Film Festival, Audience Award

Je suis né d'une cigogne / Children of the stork

France / 80 mins / French / 1999
Direction: Tony Gatlif
Otto and Louna meet every morning during their train journey to Paris. Otto is unemployed and hawks a street newspaper for the homeless. Louna works in a hairdresser’s salon and lives in the apartment of an old woman threatened with eviction. Both of them are fed up with a life without prospects, and one day they decide to change their routine. In the company of Ali, a young runaway immigrant with intellectual interests, they steal a car and hit the road. On the run, their wanderings take on meaning when they come across a wounded stork at the side of a road. It comes from Algeria and has lost its family. They adopt it, name it Mohammed, and decide to get it false identity papers and smuggle it into Germany where it can join its relatives.


France/Japan / 90 mins / French, Romany / 2002
Direction: Tony Gatlif
Max, an only child, is 10 years old. He hears Manouche gypsy Romani music being played in a local bar, and loves it. He goes to visit the gypsies in search of a guitar, where he meets a young Romani tomboy, ‘Swing’. She introduces Max to her gypsy community who live in caravans. Max is particularly fascinated by Miraldo, the Romani guitarist he first heard in the bar, and asks to take guitar lessons with him. Max and Swing develop a close bond, set too many strong and catchy musical moments. Max hears from a grandmother how she and one other child were the sole survivors of a group or Romani interred and shot during the Second World War. The film comes to a climax as Max finally learns to play a gypsy tune during his lesson, but just as we surmise Miraldo has succeeded in teaching him, he suffers a heart attack outside his caravan and dies. Following Romany tradition, Miraldo’s caravan and personal effects are burned. Max’s holiday comes to an end. Max and Swing part Company with sadness.

Exils / Exiles

France/Japan / 105 mins / French, Romany, Spanish, Arabic / 2004

Direction: Tony Gatlif
The film follows two young bohemians, Zano and Naima, who had decided to travel to the land of their parents: Algeria. Their road trip gradually becomes a spiritual quest. Their adventurous journey to Algiers is full of character exploration, relationship hiccups and imagery. The film was also a homecoming for Gatlif himself, seeing him return to Algeria, 43 years after he left.


Chicago International Film Festival
Internation Film Festival Entrevues Belfort
Berlin Film Festival
Melbourne International Film Festival


France/ 103 mins / French, Romany, Italian, English / 2006

Direction: Tony Gatlif
Zingarina arrives in Transylvania, in the heart of Romania, looking for the man she loves. She had met him in France, but one day he left without a word of explanation. With her friend Marie, who jealously watches over her, Zingarina throws her body and soul into a romantic quest and gets caught up in a fascinating land. But when she finds her former lover in the midst of a pagan festival, he brutally rejects her. Mad with anguish, she then flees Marie, who reminds her too much of her past, to fully merge into this new land, Transylvania, where she meets Tchangalo, a loner, a man like her, without borders, without ties.

Cannes Film Festival
Ghent International Film Festival-Georges Delerue Prize
Flanders International Film Festival


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