Kickstarter running for Romani film Rozkvet

Independent film production company, Lamb Films, have launched a crowdfunding campaign for their latest feature film.

Set in occupied Czechoslovakia, Rozkvet tells the story of a woman’s struggle to save her family from Nazi oppression. The film aims to shed light on the lesser known history of the persecution faced by the Roma/Romani people. The team’s ambition is for an authentic portrayal of the Romani people, who remain underrepresented in mainstream media and, when they are, it is often in a negative light, perpetuating racial stereotypes.

The film’s star and co-producer, Katarina Kokenyova, is from a Roma background and has been instrumental in developing the screenplay in a manner authentic to her culture. In 2006 she and her family moved to Northern Ireland, largely due to the lack of employment opportunities for Roma in her native Slovakia. Since then she has re-established her career, ultimately securing representation with a Belfast and London-based acting agency and appearing in multiple national television
campaigns and short films.

“Bringing this story to life is very close to my heart, as sadly it is still very relevant. When most people hear the word “gypsy” it usually brings negative images to mind. We hope to show our people in a different light than they are usually portrayed in the media and most importantly to commemorate all those who lost their lives fighting against injustice.”

Katarina Kokenyova

Other members of the production include producer Larry Cowan and director/co- producer, Thomas Pollock, who in the past have collaborated on several successful short films and documentaries, as well as having previous experience facilitating arts-based community programmes with marginalised communities. The film was written by Belfast-native Andrew McNeill, who initially wrote Rozkvet as a play
performed in the Sanctuary Theatre, Belfast in 2023.

Occupied Czechoslovakia, 1943: in the wake of her husbands’ death at the hands of the Nazis, Romani woman, Erika, isolates herself deep in the woods. Events soon spiral out of control, however, when she agrees to help the local resistance on a mission gone wrong. With the fate of her family and very people hanging in the balance, Erika reluctantly takes up arms in the hope of making a difference. Hot on her heels are local SS leader, Obersturmfuhrer Engel, a relentless man seeking to make sense of his own tragic loss, and Italian diplomat, Silvano Reale, trying to stay loyal to his German allies, while remaining a decent man. 

Rozkvet explores themes of hope in the face of injustice, as well as bringing awareness to the Romani victims of the Holocaust and the active role they played in anti-fascist resistance across occupied Europe.

Independent film company Lamb Studios was established by Larry Cowan in 2007 to provide a platform for local talent in Belfast and to create a community of filmmakers. 

Their team have decided that crowdfunding is the best avenue to bring the ambitious vision of this project to life, so they’re no accepting all levels of support. To show their appreciation to prospective donors, they are offering a number of rewards, such as exclusive artwork, behind the scenes content, invitations to a preview screening, as well as set visits and executive producer credits for larger contributors. The team aim to start production in July 2024 across Northern Ireland. The Kickstarter for the project is live now HERE and will run until 26th May 2024.

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