Romania, Hungary


TOTO AND HIS SISTERS is an astonishing family story set in Romania. During their mother’s imprisonment for dealing drugs, Toto passionately learns street 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. But in the same world, the children discover that they can get from life more than their family could offer.

Director's Statement

I am convinced that we are who we are ever since the day we are born, with our very own personality and potential. The question and the central issue in this film is what exactly is shaping us during childhood into what and who we eventually become. 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 without adult guidance, in an environment dominated by poverty, violence and drug abuse, yet finding the strength to see the richness of life beyond all that.
The fact that some are born in the places and circumstances of the film’s 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, struggling to live up to the performing and discipline demands of the street dance teacher, visiting their mother in jail, court sessions or fights with their uncles, each one is waiting for their mother's return from prison 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 behaviour and make the nights he spends at home just fragments of a faraway reality.
An important element sustaining the story’s intimacy is the video material that the younger sister, Andreea, shot herself, documenting their life. It was important for me that their story would be told in a film made with them, not only about them.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Alexander Nanau

Written by: Alexander Nanau

Produced by: Marcian Lazar, Valeriu Nicolae, Hanka Kastelicova, Alexander Nanau, Catalin Mitulescu

Cinematography: Alexander Nanau

Editing: Alexander Nanau, George Cragg, Mircea Olteanu

Sound Design: Matthias Lempert

Cast: Ana Maria Badulescu, Toto Ilie Nicusor Gabriel Horvath, Andreea Petre

Nominations and Awards

  • European Documentary 2015
  • Documentary Selection 2015