Little Aglaja has fled communist Romania with her older sister, her trapeze-artist mother and her father, a professional clown. They end up in zurich, where they resume their circus careers. In this whimsical world, Aglaja meets a Vietnamese girl with “hair of steel” and a boy her own age who’s a ceiling-walker. The show begins and the acts take the stage one by one. Danger is imminent... Hungarian filmmaker Krisztina Deak was inspired by a novel by Aglaja Veteranyi, a Romanian writer who comes from a family of circus performers. Aglaja skilfully interweaves the blue-tinged family drama with a loss-of-innocence fairy tale, and looks at the dread of celebrity from a new angle. Touching on themes of abandonment and the break-up of the family unit with consummate grace, the film balances its moments of sadness with sparklingly colourful images. A remarkable work that’s beautifully staged, with particular attention to framing (truly sublime at times), Aglaja uses its carnivalesque setting to good effect to introduce larger-than-life characters with tragic destinies.