Vergüenza y respeto

Crítica de Pablo Suárez - Buenos Aires Herald

It’s amazing how little people know about the gypsy community, and yet there’s much prejudice. A great deal of the effort put in making this film went into gaining their trust, which is quite damaged due to centuries of persecution and slander. But once they understood my work was going to respectful, the doors to the house of the Campos family kindly opened up to me. So my film tries to be an intimate glimpse into an unknown reality,” says documentary maker Tomás Lipgot (Fortalezas, Ricardo Becher recta final, Moacir, El árbol de la muralla) about his new opus Vergüenza y respeto, a close look at the gypsy community in Argentina.

As the Campos family speaks about its cultural traditions, laws, rules and principles, little by little a picture of them widens and comes into focus. Through the prism of that family, Lipgot projects a social panorama that is as attractive as it is colourful. Just like in Lipgot’s previous documentaries, the interviewees speak candidly to the camera, with a lot of spontaneity and also self-assurance. Lipgot has always succeeded in instilling a feeling of immediacy between his subjects and viewers, and Vergüenza y respeto is no exception. Nothing ever feels staged, nobody ever seems to be posing for the camera.

Vergüenza y respeto is also very informative as it not only addresses general questions regarding how the gypsy community is organized and functions, but also more particular ones that have to do with private matters. And while Lipgot doesn’t question or judge the nature of the community in any of its traits, some of their contradictions and resulting conflicts arise by themselves. And so you get a more nuanced portrayal.

On the minus side, the narrative itself runs into trouble more often than not. It needs a stronger focus and some kind of dramatic structure to tell the tale. It’s not what it is told, but how it is told. As is, you have a long series of testimonies and daily life scenes that fail to gain momentum, many times eclipsing one another, and tending to feel disjointed. It’s too much material and it needs to be sorted out — more editing would be a plus — in a more articulate manner. If not, tediousness due to accumulation takes over the film from time to time.

Production notes
Vergüenza y respeto (Argentina, 2015). Written and directed by Tomás Lipgot. Cinematography: Nicolás Richat. Editing: Leandro Tolchinsky. Running time: 81 minutes.