Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Welcome to the Circus Documentary

Welcome to the Circus, a documentary directed by Courtney Coulson, will premiere at the 2015 Portland Film Festival. The film covers one month during which the circus professionals from le Lido du Cirque Toulouse France, meet and train with the students from The Palestinian Circus School in Palestine. The goal is to be ready for a mobile circus tour for the children of Palestine. The mobile cirque will travel to several cities, ending with a final performance in Jerusalem. Only one student has a blue card, allowing travel in and out of Jerusalem. The rest will have to apply for permits. There are checkpoints from one city to the next: as one performer says, each can be different day to day, hour to hour. The film touches gently on the ongoing chaos that is the West Bank, using visual cues, and the scenery passing outside the bus as the performers move from Ramallah to the scheduled cities. We see through the eyes of circus students: eager to learn, embracing the physical and mental stretch that is circus performance. Coulson is the cinematographer and director, and she uses the final hours of preparation to convey the uncertainty of West Bank life. At 4 a.m., seven hours before the first staging, a juggling act needs revision. We see the troupe training for A Walk to the Moon, a choreography that becomes an analogy for all the performers actually getting to Jerusalem. Noor, a student of the School, begins as our guide to the overarching story: a tale of uncertainty, limits, glimpses of what could be possible if only: all with the energy of youth and determination and hope. Noor is studying to be an accountant because he knows there must be work as well as circus. The le Lido performers are our on-screen eyes, as they, like we, experience for the first time the West Bank through the hearts of young Palestinians who share the love of artistry and athleticism that is circus. Keep an eye on the comic genius of the chef at the school-priceless filming. Welcome to the Circus will be screening at the Lake Erie Arts and Film Festival later in September. Follow the documentary on facebook for more opportunities to watch this extraordinary film.

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