Do you speak Czech?

Do you speak Czech?

What is it like to move to a different country as a teenager, without speaking the local language? How does it feel to leave your children behind and go abroad to find work? And how precious is it to meet a friendly neighbour with whom to share coffee and cake from time to time? The film “Czech Lessons” by Czech Televisa and EBU Intercultural and Diversity Group takes us into the home and lives of a Bulgarian family living in Prague, gracefully portraying the different coming-of-age paths of two siblings.

Whereas Aleksandra is young enough to quickly learn the new language and successfully integrate in school, her sister Martina is at a delicate crossroads, longing for home and confronting her parents with a defiant “I don’t know!” when asked about her future plans. Martina attends the Bulgarian high school and is having difficulties learning Czech, her sister however hopes she will not go back to Bulgaria. Luckily their mother has found in Dita, an artist and musician, a warm-hearted neighbour. Štěpán, Dita’s son, is Aleksandra’s best friend and together they want to change the world – or at least their world, inviting the other, very reserved neighbours to a house party… 

The strength and beauty of the New Neighbours series is that from Belgium to the south of Italy, not only film language, but stories of old and new neighbours differ. The Czech television team wanted to show as accurate a picture of their country as possible, so they found new neighbours in a Bulgarian family. Barbora Svobodova, Czech Televisa’s producer: “I’ve been working on the second season of New Neighbours. It’s a great experience as well as certainly a more complicated production because it’s an international project. What I found most interesting was meeting colleagues from other TVs within the EBU, sharing experiences with them and finding out that we had struggled with similar difficulties. Also, an interesting part of this production was to experience conditions of a ‘EU-funded project’ and to be part of a bigger group with civil society organizations and community media”.

You can watch “Czech Lessons” subtitled in English here. All nine films are being made available one after another via www.newneighbours.eu

Is there Hope for ‘Hope House’?

is there hope for hope house croatian documentary new neighbours

Good intentions are not enough to conquer fear and prejudice. This is the bitter morale of “Hope House”, the Croatian documentary by HRT and the EBU Intercultural and Diversity Group part of the New Neighbours series. Whereas Mihal Kreko, a Baptist pastor actively involved in solidarity initiatives, believes that “integration is a two-way street”, local residents are against the project of turning an abandoned building into a community centre for refugees. Clearly distinct world views clash during an attempted neighbourhood mediation – on one side the real-life testimonies of ‘well integrated’ asylum status holders, on the other a strong distrust in “cultures and religions radically different from ours”.

What is most striking is how individual encounters and mutual acceptance are not sufficient to convince residents of the value of providing fast support to asylum holders through language and citizenship education. HRT’s team followed events as they unfolded: the renovation was stopped, and the future of the House is uncertain. 

Award-winning director and cinematographer Nebojsa Slijepcevic, HRT’s senior editor and producer Daniela Drastata and production manager Ana Saronja decided to tackle the hottest immigration topic in Zagreb – the case of Hope House – to showcase the complexity of integration.

Following protagonists for a long period of time, getting them to say things they usually hide, achieving that fine balance between facts and emotions that television produces; those were the demands the authors had to meet.”, comments Daniela Drastata, who is also the executive co-producer of the entire New Neighbours series.

You can watch “Hope House” subtitled in English here. All nine films are being made available one after another via www.newneighbours.eu