“Cirque du Cambodia” is my first feature-length documentary, and it wasn't easy to make. It took blood, sweat and tears to finish, but after a lot of twists, turns, juggling, balancing, and some flying through the air — just like in the circus — it finally got done.
It took eight years to film, but it was thrilling to capture the amazing talents and ongoing challenges of two Cambodian teenagers who traveled from the rice fields and dusty roads of their rural village to the other side of the world to train at the prestigious National Circus School of Montreal. Their ultimate dream was to perform with the prestigious Cirque du Soleil, whose headquarters is located across the street from the school.
The two teenagers began their circus training in their village in Cambodia at a school for the arts called Phare Ponleu Selpak, which translates to “brightness of the arts.” The school runs a “social circus” program where at-risk and marginalized youth learn circus skills, such as juggling, tightrope walking, and trapeze, and perform in shows for locals and tourists. During a trip to Cambodia, I happened to catch a circus performance at Phare and was blown away. I ended up spending the next decade filming and editing this documentary, following the story through four countries on a shoe-string budget.
The documentary won audience awards at two film festivals and a jury prize at the 2021 Circus International Film Festival and will soon be available for streaming.