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Director Roschdy Zem pays tribute to a forgotten hero of French culture, whose rise and fall at the turn of the 20th century is a powerful lesson about discrimination and intolerance. Cuban slave Rafael Padilla (Omar Sy) is brought illegally to Europe and he eventually ends up in the circus run by Monsieur and Madame Delveaux (Frederic Pierrot, Noemie Lvovsky), playing a cannibal in the ring. Experienced clown George Footit (James Thierree) approaches Rafael with a proposition: they will join forces to create a clowning act called Footit and Chocolat, which will rely on the latter being the fall guy for various well-placed kicks. The act goes down a storm and the duo are hired by circus master Oller (Oliver Gourmet) as one of the acts for his 1,500-seat big top. However, fame comes at a price and when Rafael begins to object to being the butt of every pratfall, his grim and undeserving fate is sealed.