12 Nov 2010

Open University premieres its first feature film documentary in the UK at Amnesty International

Roma Children Elizabet Kiti with her friend

Roma Children Elizabet Kiti with her friend

The Open University’s first feature-length documentary film, Vortex, which focuses on Roma families in Hungary, has its first UK screening at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre in London on 18 November. The film was co-produced with the Hungarian Public Motion Picture Foundation and Hunnia Film Studios and tells the story of three Roma families in Told, a rural community in north-east Hungary’s Hajdu-Bihar county on the border of Romania, where there is almost total unemployment and daily life is a struggle for survival.

John Oates of the Child and Youth Studies Group in the Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology at The Open University said: “Vortex unveils the severity and hardship experienced by this little known community. In one moving scene, a 14-year-old girl has just attempted suicide and tells her mother that her only wish is to escape. The family’s social worker breaks down because she feels powerless in the face of such hopeless circumstances. The experience of making this film has changed my life because the situation for these young people is so bleak and hard. Its objective is to raise awareness of issues including children in poverty in the EC and the plight of the Roma community in Hungary.”

The free screening of Vortex is at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre, 17 – 25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A. After the screening, John Oates and Milena Buyum from Amnesty International will host a question and answer session with the audience.

Vortex will be shown in Budapest at the Hungarian National Film Theatre on 25 November, and is now being entered for international festivals which will bring it to a wider audience.

John collaborated with Hungarian director Csaba Szekeres to make Vortex and it was shot between August 2009 and January 2010. Vortex is the second film that John has made on the subject of Hungary’s children. He produced a one-hour film with Csaba called Three Children, Three Destinies, with the award-winning Hunnia Film Studio director Pál Sándor. It follows the lives of three young children and their families in contrasting situations in Hungary, and shows how economic, cultural and physical aspects of their lives affect their futures. John has been involved in policy development in Hungary and the film is being used as advocacy for the needs and rights of disadvantaged communities. Material from the film also forms part of The Open University course Children and young people's worlds: frameworks for integrated practice (E807).

Tickets for the free screening can be ordered online from

For more information contact:
Press Office, 01908 654 3176

back to All News stories

back to previous page

back to top