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The Films Of The LA Film Fest: 'Circo'

Holly Butcher, Piya Sinha-Roy |
June 19, 2010 | 3:04 p.m. PDT

Senior Music Editor and Entertainment Editor

A young acrobat steps out to wow the waning crowds of the Ponce
travelling circus, in 'Circo'. (Photo: LAFF/Image.net)

'Circo' follows the Ponce family around the windy Mexican countryside as they toil for their family business: a 100-year old traveling circus currently led by ringmaster Tino Ponce. It's a heartwarming-yet-heartbreaking story of an extended family that has put in tremendous sweat and manual labor for the dream of performance born a century ago. 
But even through hard work, the family struggles to make ends meet and raise the kids on the road. And this is captured beautifully through close ups of Tino's worrying face as he confronts ticket sales dwindling, or his wife Ivonne cupping her hands over her eyes as she frets for her overworked children. 
Despite the hardships - for some of the Ponces - the dream never fades. Tino's 5-year-old niece raves about performing and tells the camera she pities other children whose life only consists of school and homework. The other Ponce kids are shown favoring backflips for monkey bars. These are the real stars of The Gran Circo Mexico, and their spirt shines brilliantly throughout the film.
Apart from the younger Ponces, the other magic of 'Circo' is the imagery. Director Aaron Schock used creative angles to show staples like the trapeze act, animal cages and tent set up. Everything was carefully shot - just as every aspect of their circus is meticulously rehearsed and detailed. 
The film is short (75 mins) but filled with love: the passion of fulfilling a century-old dream and the bonds of a large family. (But it's not without a little conflict.) This is worth watching on the big screen, so as to appreciate the rolling hills of the Mexican landscape and the colorful costumes as the Ponce children twirl in the ring. 
Verdict: Go see.

- Holly Butcher

A documentary about a travelling circus in Mexico sounds enticing enough, but the story that 'Circo' tells goes surprisingly much deeper than expected. 
As a film crew follows the family circus around Mexico, they reveal a touching insight into the tight extended family ties that hold the circus together despite the tough economy hitting them hard financially. 
As a life on the road threatens to break up one of families, it is the children of the circus who bring the most heart to the film. Their aspirations, hopes, talent and humor give perspective to the important things in life and how the future of their world rests undecided but wide open. Instead of pity, 'Circo' gives the circus family a status of honor with their honest hard work and their family ties.
Verdict: Go see it!
- Piya Sinha-Roy



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