Jesus startled his adult listeners when he told them that they had to become like children before they could enter the Kingdom of God. Children who live in the present moment and delight in the play of the senses are in touch with a life-enhancing spirituality. Mondo is a lithe and lovely film that celebrates these virtues in the soul of a 10-year-old gypsy boy (Ovidiu Balan) who shows up in the quaint and tranquil French seaside city of Nice in the 1950s.

Without any family or home, Mondo is forced to rely on the kindness of strangers. His wonderful smile wins over the heart of a woman at a bakery who regularly gives him bread. He finds a surrogate father in a homeless man who sleeps on the streets with several doves as companions. An old fisherman cleverly teaches the boy the alphabet by writing letters on stones. And Mondo is given shelter and love by a Vietnamese woman who knows what it's like to be an outsider. But eventually the authorities catch up with the boy and devise their own motivational solution to his problems.

Mondo is directed by Tony Gatlif and based on a story by the French writer J.M.G. Le Clezio. The film shows how Mondo's spirituality — his zest for life, his curiosity, and his playful spirit — has a salutary effect on the townsfolk of Nice. When he leaves, their lives and the soul of the community are both diminished.