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2 Votes (2)
Toto and His Sisters (2014)
Toto Si Surorile Lui (original title)
Documentary, 93 min
Production country   Romania
Language   Romanian
Director   Alexander Nanau
Producer   Alexander Nanau
Plot keywords    
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The astonishing family story of Toto (10), and his sisters, Ana (17) and Andreea (15). During their mother's imprisonment, Toto passionately learns dancing, reading and writing, while his sisters try to keep the family together in a world that has long forgotten what the innocence of childhood should be. What happens when we discover that we can get more from life than our parents have to offer?
Director's Notes
The question of what makes us who we are, and how we chose or models as children is a central issue for me in this film. After six months of research, I have decided to tell the story of Toto and his sisters, a story that deals with the difficulty of children of different ages to grow up without their mother, in an environment dominated by poverty, violence and drug abuse, yet finding the strength to see the richness of life beyond that.

Their story is a metaphor that can be applied to many children whose destinies seem already determined at some point in their lives. The fact that some are born in the circumstances of our protagonists is, from my perspective, an accident of fate and has nothing to say about the abilities and aspirations one has. More crucial for the development of one’s perspectives and imagination are the models chosen and the kind of life pursued. 

The focus is the development of three young lives of different ages within a year. Whether it is their life in the ghetto, the struggle at the Children’s Club, going to school, visiting their mother in jail, court sessions or fights with their uncles, each one is waiting for the mother in his or her own way.

Learning and dancing become dominant in Toto’s world. Words, reading, numbers, dance moves take over his mind and his behavior and make the nights he spends at home just fragments of a faraway reality. 

It is important that the film to remains accessible to the viewer without trying to shock or to emphasize the misery of the ghetto. The violence and drug abuse must be perceived just as the protagonists live and see these things: as a normal part of life. The camera that shoots mostly at the characters’ height supports this concept. Thus, the film’s attitude is not of looking down to the children, as if they were “small and vulnerable.” We will always look through their eyes, at their own height, from a position of equality.

An important element sustaining the story’s intimacy is the video material that Andreea herself shot, documenting their life. It is a film made with them, not only about them.
Technical Specifications Image / Sound
Color / Black & White   Color
Sound format   Dolby Digital
Aspect ratio   2.35:1
Production format   HD
Production country
Tribeca Film Festival 2015 press kit
Toto and His Sisters Variety Review
Nisi Masa Interview with Alexander Nanau
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Films of Alexander Nanau
Toto and His Sisters
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