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December 15, 2022





by Péter Akar and Rita Balogh
Campfilm | Hungary

Documentary | 1st feature


When the war in Ukraine started in February 2022, leaving her family behind, Sonia, a 12-year-old circus artist was set on a journey through Europe. Her aura and talent make her stand out from even this extraordinary crowd.


When in 2022 February, the war breaks out between Russia and Ukraine, 11-year-old circus artist Sonia’s life as she knew it is gone.
As the superpowers of the world lock horns right next to her town Kharkiv, she needs to leave her home and her father behind.

Instead of fleeing to France with her younger brother – where her mother moved to live with a man she had met on the internet when Sonia was 6 – , she goes to Hungary with her trainer Svitlana, to pursue her career as a contortionist. She finds herself in a world unknown to her: she doesn’t know the city, the language, she hardly knows her roommates at the dorm.
The only thing she knows is the circus, and her act.

This harsh world now means safety for her. As she trains harder and harder, her unique talent gets recognized – she is invited to perform at the biggest circus event in the world, the Monte-Carlo Circus Festival. Although she is not ready for this step, the organizers want to show sympathy to Ukraine: as a victim of war, Sonia gets a unique opportunity. This also provokes the jealous eyes and bullying of her teammates. Adding to her anxiety, her mother Natasha, – who she has not seen in six months – goes to Monte-Carlo along with Sonia’s brother, and her boyfriend, Jim. She wins a special prize, and as a consequence, she has to perform twice a day for 10 days, which causes her pain in the upcoming weeks. Natasha decides to take Sonia out of Svitlana’s group, and enroll her in a new school, in Italy. She now needs to find her place in this new world, new country, new school. While striving to prove her worthiness by becoming a great contortionist, she has to learn to be in charge of her own life. Her aim is to be invited to Monte-Carlo again, but this time not as the Ukrainian girl, but for her own merits, as Sonia.
Our documentary will follow Sonia’s life in these new circumstances in the next 4-5 years.

Director’s Profile

Rita BALOGH has a deep passion for documentaries.

In 2014, she co-founded the Budapest International Documentary Festival. In addition she has recently established an experimental cultural open-air cinema in rural Hungary.

In 2016, Rita set up her own production company to produce and promote truly international films.  Her first feature, Whose Dog Am I premiered in Warsaw in 2022. Apart from producing Rita is a filmmaker herself, making documentaries with a focus on building bridges within societies. She is one of Ji.hlava’s Emerging Producers of 2024.

Peter AKAR graduated from the University of Theater and Film (SZFE) as a screenplay writer and went on to study documentary
directing at National Film and Television School in the UK.

He has worked on several documentaries for British TV channels (Channel 4, STV, etc). His film Sing Your Heart Out has won the Grierson Award and the Royal Television Society’s Award. Apart from documentaries he has worked on critically acclaimed fiction-TV series in Hungary both as a writer and a director. He teaches writing and filmmaking at ELTE University, Budapest.

Company Profile

Campfilm is a Budapest based production company founded in 2007.

The films produced by Campfilm – both documentary and fiction – are author-driven films, mostly dealing with social issues.
The focus is always on very personal, human stories.

We often work with first time filmmakers and usually accompany them on their following films.
Campfilm’s credits include Soft Rain by Dénes Nagy (45th Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes), Another Hungary by Dénes Nagy (43rd
IFF Rotterdam), Cain’s Children by Marcell Gerő (62nd San Sebastian IFF), The Euphoria of Being by Réka Szabó (Grand Prix of the 30th Semaine de la Critique of the Locarno International Film Festival, European Film Awards Documentary Selection 2020), Return to Epipo by Judit Oláh (CPH:DOX 2020), Her Mothers by Asia Dér and Sári Haragonics (Hot Docs IDFF 2020) or Natural Light, the first feature directed by Dénes Nagy that premiered at the 72nd Berlinale Competition and received the Silver Bear Award for Best Director. The film was shortlisted for the European Film Award’s Feature Film Selection 2021 and Márton Ágh received the EFA Best Production Designer Award.