One is from a remote Inuit community in the Arctic Tundra, the other from the bustling but poverty-stricken capital of Guinea, West Africa. But Guillaume Saladin and Yamoussa Bangoura share a dream: take circus to the youth in their communities. Filmed between two locations at the opposite ends of the world, Circus without Borders introduces two figures committed to change, with the talent to achieve it.
Bathed in ethereal stage lighting, Yamoussa Bangoura combines strength with grace as he pirouettes like a ballet dancer, suspended by ropes above a captivated audience. A single female voice over a haunting drone provides musical accompaniment, while a giant glowing moon forms the eerie backdrop. The moment is suspenseful, a piece of stage magic. The young star, who in other scenes shows off his musical prowess on the drums as well as his mastery of the full plethora of circus skills, is a natural-born performer.
"When I do circus, all the bad things go away"
, says Yamoussa, who grew up in poverty-stricken Guinea. Now, his dream is to form an all-African troupe from Guinea's best homegrown talent, to give others from his community the chance to travel the world performing. In this, he has much in common with Guillaume Saladin, a circus veteran with whom he has shared a stage. Guillaume also grew up a world away from the international circus scene and, like Yamoussa, wants to take circus back to his local community; a remote Inuit village plagued by an alarming rate of suicide amongst its youth.
In places still reeling from their colonial pasts and struggling to reconcile their history with the modern world, both men are using circus to imbue the youth with pride in their culture. Inuit throat singing and Guinean tribal dance find their way into the performances, which, in Guillaume's words, "take the best of the modern world and the best of the traditional world and make something coherent."
The breathtaking results have to be seen to be believed.
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"Seldom does an audience leap to its feet and erupt in cheers at the end of a movie. Yet that's exactly what happened... on July 29, when about 300 applauding, whistling, and yes, teary-eyed viewers rose simultaneously in a cacophony of whoops and hollers as the closing credits rolled."
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Opening Night Film - Margaret Mead Festival, 2015
Official Selection - Vancouver International Film Festival, 2015
Official Selection - IFF Boston, 2015
Official Selection - United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF) 2015
Winner - Best Documentary - Moondance Film Festival 2015
Winner - Best Documentary - Hamilton Film Festival 2015