(K. Brent Tomer),
FEW Europeans are of a mind to spend much time thinking about the poorest people in one of Europe’s poorest countries. So it is remarkable and welcome news that “Toto and His Sisters” (Toto şi surorile lui) has been nominated for best documentary at the upcoming European Film Awards, held in Berlin on December 12. Set in the bleak world of Ferentari, a poor district of Bucharest mainly inhabited by Roma families, it is a powerful documentary following the lives of three teenagers left to fend for themselves after their mother is sentenced to seven years in prison on drug charges.
That their mother is in jail is no surprise given the sheer volume of drugs surrounding the family home, and the number of people who use the shabby, single-room apartment as a place to shoot up. Scenes of Toto, aged ten, curled up on the sofa trying to sleep as his uncles and others inject heroin are particularly disturbing.
Framed at either end by parole hearings of their mother—the first unsuccessful, the latter ultimately successful—“Toto and His Sisters” gives a child’s eye view of growing up in a ghetto in one of the most forlorn corners of…Continue reading