The LUX Prize 2012 – Just the Wind

Labour Party

The next finalist film in the LUX Prize this year is Benedek Fliegauf’s Just the Wind (Csak a szél).  This is the chilling story of a Romany community living amongst an atmosphere of fear and paranoia.  A recent spate of murders has left the Hungarian gypsy community, which lone mother Mari (Katalin Toldi) lives within, in a state of justifiable panic.

Nobody knows who committed these crimes, yet it remains clear that its perpetrators are trying to send out a message. She fears for the well being of her two children and their grandfather – working two jobs a day in order to raise enough money for them to join her husband in Canada. Her children attend the local school but the recent murder of a Romany family, who both worked and sent their children to be educated nearby, shows that these recent hate crimes aren’t just aimed at those traveling families who choose not to contribute to society.

The heightened sense of terror surrounding these racist attacks has a dramatic effect on the family, with every sound and unusual occurrence culminating in a suffocating sense of trepidation.

Based on tragic real life events, Just the Wind is a drama which focuses on the harrowing effects of these hate crimes without ever attempting to make a misguided social political statement – a fact made clear by all of its ethnic groups being portrayed through the same unapologetic light.
However, despite its aim to remain purely a dramatisation it’s powerful approach does raise some important issues regarding this often overlooked form of racism.

Director Fliegauf presents his central characters almost like ghosts, observing them as they go about their lives and revealing how invisible they appear to the world which surrounds them – emphasising their ethnic groups neglected social status.

Fliegauf allows the camera to cling to his protagonists, imprisoning the audience in their insular community and installing in the audience an artificial fear of the world which surrounds them, suitably mirroring Mari and her family’s own sense of heightened paranoia – an element only amplified by the film’s ominous score which installs a palpable sense of foreboding doom.

Steadily building to a nerve shattering conclusion, Just the Wind is a pressure cooker of social criticism which deceptively hooks you early on, before slowly reeling you in.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT BANS TRADE IN SEAL PRODUCTS

Labour Party

The European Parliament made history this week when we voted overwhelmingly to ban trade in seal products. This vote means that all three European Union (EU) institutions – the Commission, the Council, and the Parliament – are now in agreement, and seal products will no longer be placed on the market within the EU.

Europe has been a primary market for Canadian seal products, and this ban may well spell the beginning of the end of the slaughter!
Closing markets saves seals’ lives. Just the prospect of an EU ban on the seal product trade was enough to drive the prices for seal fur down to just $15 Canadian per skin this year – a decline of 86 percent since 2006.

Many sealers chose not to hunt seals this year as a result, and to date, out of a quota of 338,200 seals, just 57,622 have been killed. It is likely that when the seal hunt officially ends on 15 May, a quarter of a million seals will have been spared a horrible death. Now that the EU has banned its trade in seal products, countless more seals will live out their lives in peace from this year forward.