Ioanis Nuguet’s affecting portrait of two Roma children debuted in the ACID sidebar of Cannes last year. Other festivals have included Rome, DOK Leipzig, True/False, Hot Docs, and Tempo Doc.
Thirteen-year-old Spartacus and his ten-year-old sister Cassandra have been in France for six years, having moved with their parents from Romania. Part of the persecuted Roma minority, they’ve struggled all their lives and, if it weren’t for 21-year-old Camille, a trapeze artist who has given them haven in her circus, the kids would still be living on the streets. The siblings love their parents, despite their flaws, but when their alcoholic father threatens to leave the country, the children are forced to reckon with a decision that will determine their future – enter France’s foster care system and secure an education, essentially abandoning their parents, or return to their familiar, impoverished life to live on the fringes of society forevermore. Nuguet captures intense candor from all involved without feeling exploitative, and even manages to soften the stark images of poverty and hopelessness with beautifully composed and artfully manipulated photography.