Matt Skinner’s Circus Born is one of those painful anomalies, bursting with quirk and promise but falling just ever so short of the mark. Gritty and observational in approach, the documentary takes the form of ‘a year in the life’ of Fossett’s Circus, where the focus on the everyday labour and toil overshadows the glamour of the spotlight.
The film never shies away from the honest opinions and struggles (and tempers) that revolve around the big top.; the frustrations of orchestrating an act with language barriers, new perspectives on the absence of animals in today’s circus by the children that grew up around them, and the uncertainty of securing seat sales as they travel across country, are but some of the issues covered. This is only disappointing due to the fact that Circus Born seems to merely touch on the history of Fossett’s family circus through sporadic interviews with its oldest surviving member.
There are attempts to elaborate on these snippets, but, unfortunately, they become lost in the mix. This is a shame, as what is revealed is fascinating and recalled with the warmth and humour of a true born show-person.
That said, there are some really nice, honest moments throughout and the balance between the genuine love of the performers is juxtaposed nicely with the reality of the day-to-day running of the show.
DVD now available
For enquiries regarding Circus Born for festivals, other showings or TV please email Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org