Nanau explores childhood lost with Toto and His Sisters

Nanau explores childhood lost with Toto and His Sisters
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Toto and His Sisters is a documentary about the lives of three children and their mother who’s in jail for drug dealing.

It is the work of German film director Alexander Nanau, who was born in Romania. The story unfolds in a poor, run-down part of the Romanian capital Bucharest.

The movie had its world premiere during this year’s San Sebastian film festival.

Euronews reporter Wolfgang Spindler paid a visit to the Emmy award-winning director in Bucharest when he was putting the final touches to the documentary in the editing suite.

Alexander Nanau: “The work is not different from the work of a director with real actors. Things happen through human relations. If you manage to establish a connection and trust, everything works by itself. Its like in every relationship, the best partner is the one who brings you to the point where don’t have to pretend, and you are just really yourself, and that’s my role as a film director — to build trust so that people can be themselves.”

Nanau followed the children and their mother in prison for more than a year. He says in order to depict the disappearance of childhood it was crucial to capture their everyday struggles, so parts of the film are shot by one of the sisters.

While young Toto desperately tries to learn how to read and write, his teenage sisters fight to stay away from drugs and prostitution and maintain family life.

Nanau said: “With the way the movie is made, where you don’t feel the film director’s presence, we cross the borders of classical documentary film. For the viewer it’s like watching a live action movie with real people. I never said anything or created a scenario, it was just like filming real life, just what happens in front of the camera. And then you structure a story in the editing room. It took me around one and a half years to complete the documentary.”

The mother served all of her her 7 years sentence and Nanau said that the three kids learned to live their own life