Synopsis: 20 years in the making on the road to Appleby Fair with a pair of Fell ponies, Romany Rai breaks apart the stereotypes of Gypsy and Traveller culture.
Walter LLoyd, who died at the age of 93 in January 2018, was one of only a few ‘gorgios’ (house dwellers) who had the trust of the Gypsy and Traveller community. He counted many Gypsies as his friends, and his knowledge of the Romany language, Gypsy tribes, history and customs made him a truly modern day Romany Rai.
Since he was a small boy, filmmaker Tom LLoyd has travelled with his father Walter to Appleby Fair, the largest Gypsy horse fair in Europe. Since 1995 Tom has been filming these journeys travelling in a bow-top wagon pulled by their home-bred Fell ponies, creating an extraordinary collection of moving images. Romany Rai includes previously unseen film footage taken by the Gypsies themselves in the 1960’s.
Not since Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka travelled among Gypsies and Travellers in the 1980’s has an artist had such sustained and intimate access into this world. Romany Rai weaves together candid conversations about Gypsy and Traveller culture with stunning images and gritty fireside music sessions.
Featuring Billy Welch (Shera Rom or Head Gypsy), his family and many other Gypsies, Travellers, horsemen and women who Walter encountered on this extraordinary journey.
Film maker Tom LLoyd has won awards at many national and international film festivals, including Best Short Film and Best Music Video at the Equus Film Festival in New York.