Our School (2011)

  • Co-Director/Co-Producer: Miruna Coca-Cozma
  • Director/Producer: Mona Nicoara
Film Length:
94 minutes
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Three Roma children in a small Transylvanian town are among the pioneer participants in an initiative to integrate the ethnically segregated Romanian schools. When their school begins to desegregate, Alin, Benjamin, and Dana set out for the city school, optimistic for education and new friendships, even as funds earmarked for integration are questionably used to renovate the old Roma-only school in their village.

Shot over four years, the filmmakers' tender portrait of rural village life and its rhythms fosters an intimacy in the children's profound reality and admiration for their indomitable spirit, punctuated by shocking instances of prejudice and ignorance. The story touches on issues ranging from institutionalized racism, public education, and the intractability of poverty, culminating in an outrageous finale that cements the Roma children's struggle in the annals of egregious human rights violations. Our School is an absorbing, infuriating, and ultimately bittersweet story of tradition and progress.

Our School premiered in the US at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, went on to over 60 festivals across the globe, enjoying long runs in Romania and Switzerland. It was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at SilverDocs 2011, Best International Feature at the 2012 Human Rights Arts and Film Festival in Australia, and the Grain de  Cinéphage award at the 2012 Films de Femmes, and it was nominated for Best Eastern European Documentary at the 2011 Silver Eye Awards and Best Romanian Documentary at the 2012 Gopo Awards.

Praise for Our School
"Exercising admirable restraint in its expose of ingrained racism in the Romanian educational system, absorbing docu Our School...carries echoes of Michael Apted's groundbreaking Up series." Variety

"Some documentary films take us far away to reveal what we did not know while other documentaries return us home to confront what we already know. Our School does both...Targu-Lapus is far off in the Transylvania Mountains, yet it mirrors what we know about small towns in the Appalachian Mountains...A gentle and smart film." Filmmaker Magazine

"Among the most moving and galvanizing in the [Tribeca] festival, Our School was filmed in color in Romania, but finds racism as shocking as the Lovings faced in the Jim Crowe South. Like watching the European equivalent of the aftermath of Brown vs. Board of Education...this quietly observed, yet explosive documentary could be exhibit A in another law suit." Film Forward

“It's impossible to finish the film and escape the parallels to our own society—we've been at this for half a century and still haven't figured out how to resolve the gross inequalities in our school system, after all.” DCist

"A moving dedication by filmmakers Mona Nicoara and Miruna Coca-Cozma to the Roma people in Romania, chronicling their incredible resilience and character in the face of perpetual segregation and discrimination...A film that simultaneously made me love even more those extraordinary human beings we call Gypsies, and hate the infuriating traditions of institutionalized racism present in so many modern societies, and so dangerously insidious." Huffington Post

The Film Campaign

Our School helps understand the mechanisms and solutions to one of the most egregious human rights violations taking place in Europe during our lifetime: The segregation of the continent's largest ethnic minority, the Roma, into inferior, dead-end schools which trap children into a cruel cycle of poverty and disenfranchisement. As the decades that passed since the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in the US have demonstrated, the road from saying that separate is not equal to actually integrating schools and societies is long, winding, and never easy.

  • In Europe, Our School is as a primary document and spring board for discussion on school segregation and discrimination, as well as resource allocation and teaching methodologies for lasting school integration in Romania, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.
  • In the US, Our School works as a tool for countering the re-segregationist neighborhood schools movement, and for deepening educators understanding of the achievement gap from a global human rights-based perspective.

Issue: Education, Health, Human Rights, Race & Ethnicity


Reel Education New Day Films


  • Films de Femmes, France - Graine de Cinéphage Award
  • Gopo Awards - Nominated, Best Romanian Documentary
  • Human Rights Arts and Film, Australia - Best Feature
  • Silver Eye Awards - Nominated, Best Eastern European Feature Documentary
  • Silverdocs, US - Sterling Award for Best US Feature

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    View Screenings
Event Name Date City State   Location Status
Limited engagement at reRun in New York City Jan 18024 Jan 18, 2013 Brooklyn NY United States reRun theater Complete
Limited engagement at reRun in New York City Jan 18024 Jan 18, 2013 Brooklyn NY United States reRun theater Complete

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