Film Reviews

Review: ‘After Circus’

Hot Docs 2016


After Circus
(Canada/USA, 78 min.)
Dir. Viveka Melki
Programme: Canadian Spectrum (Toronto Premiere)

Viveka Melki invites audiences to swing under the big top in her wonderful feature debut After Circus. This entrancing portrait of aging circus performers shows how the greatest show on earth is as thrilling for the stars in the ring as it is for the kids in the seats. Fly high on a trapeze with Dolly Jacobs as she performs aerial feats despite approaching age sixty, and come down to earth with octogenarian Thelma Kemp as she balances the haywire act of finding affordable housing on a retired circus performer’s income in Florida. The passion within these seasoned artists is inspiring.

Melki lets these memorable characters convey how the joy of performing never dies as she takes her camera inside the world of post-circus retirement, but the director shows how a modest lifestyle demands commitment and offers a greater challenge for performers when their passion outlives their physical capacity to enter the ring. Relishing the spotlight is a top reward for circus performers since their daring acts afford meagre incomes, yet as After Circus follows the seasoned entertainers back into the ring, it lets the audience experience the magical thrill of the big top from an intimate vantage point. After Circus is a touching tribute to the artists who take audiences to magical heights.

After Circus screens:
-Friday, April 29 at 9:15 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox
-Sunday, May 1 at 1:15 PM at Cineplex Scotiabank
-Saturday, May 7 at 1:00 PM at Cineplex Scotiabank

Please visit the POV Hot Docs hub for more coverage on this year’s festival.

Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8. Visit www.hotdocs.ca for more information.