Circus performance – especially acrobatics – is both entertainment and art. In some parts of the world, it’s also survival.
A new documentary produced by Northern Light Productions, “Circus Without Borders,” tells the story of two men who built two local circuses in very different parts of the world: the frigid far north of Canada and the searing heat of West Africa.
The Inuit circus, in a place called Igloolik in the Arctic, is called Artcirq.
“Igloolik is a tiny community of a couple thousand people where a number of young people had killed themselves in a short period of time,” documentary filmmaker Linda Matchan told Here & Now’s Lisa Mullins. Matchan worked on the documentary with fellow filmmakers Susan Gray and Andrew Kukura.
“It just happened that Guillaume Saladin, who was a performer for Montreal, had been visiting there at the time. And he went back to his circus in Montreal, Cirque Éloize, and began thinking about this, thinking, ‘What can I do to help?’”
Saladin had grown up in Igloolik. He decided to recruit some of his acrobatic friends and went back to his home community to start Artcirq.
Meanwhile, his friend and Cirque Éloize colleague Yamoussa Bangoura also dreamed of returning to his home country to empower young people through circus arts. Like Igloolik, the Guinean capital of Conakry has desperately few jobs to offer its young people.
Bangoura started a circus called Kalabante. The documentary explores the alliance between these two circuses a world apart.
Andrew Kukura, documentary filmmaker.
This segment aired on May 1, 2015.