Toto and his Sisters
Directed by Alexandre Nanau
Totonel (10) and his sisters, Andreea (14) and Ana (17), are waiting for their mother to come back home from prison. As they grow up, each of them learns how to survive on their own, hoping that when their mother returns, the family will be reunited.
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★★★★★ review by Bunny Dumont on Letterboxd
I saw TOTO AND HIS SISTERS at MIFF last night and it's probably the best example of direct cinema I've ever encountered & one of the most powerful films I've ever seen. I travelled through Romania in 2011, spending most of my time around the Ukranian border and the level poverty that I witnessed was unlike anything I've ever seen before, even in my travels through south east Asia - and the kindness I was shown was actually pretty heartbreaking. No-one had much at all, but what they did have they always offered to me.
Cycles of poverty are so difficult to escape from and it's made much worse when the government is actively shutting down the few services services for those in need and turning their backs on the most underprivileged demographic- the Roma people. This is not even touching on the police corruption rampant in Romania or the failures of their judicial system. There are questions surrounding if the filmmaker should have intervened at times, and I can understand this - however we do not know whether Nanau & crew played a part in helping Andreea and Toto in getting to the orphanage. More information is definitely required about the ethical obligations of the filmmakers, that's for sure. However, this didn't seem like a manipulative take on the situation at all. On the contrary, I felt as though Nanau gave the children a lot of agency - Andreea is quite often behind the camera and therefore has some control in regards to the way the story is presented. I've not been this affected by a film in a very long time - it is an incredibly intimate insight into a family facing unimaginable difficulties. As I'm sure you can imagine, it is not an easy watch, but it shines a light in an a very dark place.
★★★★★ review by Stephen Nelson on Letterboxd
I've only seen a rough cut of this film while I was taking notes at the Sundance Institute Documentary Lab. I was incredibly moved. It is top tear documentary filmmaking, and I can't wait to see it again.
This film has the patience and potency of Romanian New Wave films, but is entirely non-fiction. Which, seems like it shouldn't be possible, but it happened and I am very grateful.
★★★½ review by Peter Valerio on Letterboxd
Well, that was depressing. Three kids are left alone in a slum when their mother is sent to prison. One dances, one's a junkie and the third is the de facto adult. Bleak.
★★★★ review by Liz Reed on Letterboxd
★★★★★ review by TzohTo on Letterboxd
La mayor virtud de este documental es haber estado ahi en todo momento, como si estuvieras en la vida real.
Crudo, confrontador y por momentos esperanzador pero al final sabes que la inocencia es fragil y que la vida continua.
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