Aaron Schock's acclaimed film, which has appeared at many world festivals and is the most recent winner of the Jury Award at the Hampton's International Film Festival, is one of the most compelling documentaries seen in years. Set in the cinematically rich milieu of a century-old traveling circus in rural Mexico, CIRCO follows the family-run "Circo Mexico" as they struggle to stay together despite mounting debt, dwindling audiences, and a simmering family conflict. The hardscrabble founders, the Ponce family, have lived and performed on the back roads of Mexico since the 19th century. Tino, the ringmaster, is driven by his dream to lead his parents' circus to greater success. He corrals the energy of his whole family, including his parents, his brother and his four young children, towards this singular goal. But his wife Ivonne is determined to make a change. Feeling exploited by her in-laws, she longs to return her kids to a childhood lost to laboring in the circus. Through an intricately woven story of a marriage in trouble and of a century-old family tradition that hangs in the balance, CIRCO asks: To whom and to what should we ultimately owe our allegiances? Gorgeously filmed along the back roads of rural Mexico, CIRCO is a road movie that opens the viewer to the luminous world of a traveling circus while examining the universal themes of family bonds, filial responsibility, and the weight of cultural inheritance. --(c)First Run Features … More
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Critic Reviews for Circo
Circo takes you to the edge of human experience on a path none of this summer's superhero daredevils would ever consider taking.
It says as much about human nature as it shows about struggling entertainers.
Sort of a modern-day version of "Toby Tyler," only without a frisky, mischievous Mr. Stubbs as comic relief.
"Circo'' offers a fascinating mix of backstage drama and family dynamics.
In "Circo," Aaron Schock documents the fearsome labor and intense willpower it takes to keep this shoestring show on the road, and the price paid by the family that runs it.
The colors are vivid, the acrobats nimble, the animals impressive and the hard work of Ponce and his extended family has nobility and poignancy.
Running off and joining the circus won't seem like such a fun idea after watching Circo.
Circo ends somewhat arbitrarily and could benefit from a stronger conclusion, but its portrait of a lifestyle that's at once shabby and glittery is finely etched.
The real life the camera catches is naturally more dramatic and unexpected than any written scenario.
Circo is touching as a personal family story, but extraordinary as a visual document of an eroding world, thanks to Schock's second job as an amazing cinematographer.
Besides documenting the life of a rural traveling family circus, Schock looks at how traditions of the past are challenged in today's world.
...the kind of documentary that brings you to a different world and lifestyle.
Circo has the succinct haunting contradiction of a good Steinbeck story, perhaps something out of Tortilla Flat.
The film engages sporadically but mostly fails to take advantage of its under-documented milieu.
Audience Reviews for Circo
Two circus movies in a row! What's next? A revival of BERSERK starring Joan Crawford? Anyhow, this one is world's apart from WATER FOR ELEPHANTS.
This beautifully filmed yet dramatically hesitant documentary about a family struggling to run their traveling circus through the small towns of Mexico plays more like a melancholy tone poem. We are so used to DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA in our documentaries anymore, that it's easy to criticize this film for leaving a lot of it offscreen. Instead, we just watch as 3 generations of a family sacrifice education, running water, and all luxurious amenities to keep their business alive. There's a warmth at play here, especially in the vibrant colors and stunning photography, but I was left with some indelibly heartbreaking images, such as a little girl crying as she is forced by her grandparents to keep practicing backflips oryoung kids erecting the circus tents day in and day out.
I was left with many questions. Too many in fact. What are the child labor laws like in Mexico? How many people actually work at this circus? Is it just the family? Because we pretty much see them doing everything, but it just seems so impossible. Have the kids ever been injured by the animals? And the story does get repetitive, which is somewhat the point. Regardless, there's something really moving in this brief (75 min.) film about a lost culture struggling to continue its legacy.
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