Acrobats Guillaume Saladin and Yamoussa Bangoura met in Montreal’s acclaimed Cirque Eloize. They hail from distant parts of the globe—Guillaume from an Inuit village called Igloolik in the Canadian Arctic, Yamoussa from the Guinean city of Conakry. Yet they share a common dream, which is to revitalize their struggling communities through the power of performance. Both Igloolik and Conakry are reeling from a legacy of colonialism that has decimated their cultures and caused desperate social problems: Drugs, apathy and suicide in the Arctic, wretched poverty and massive unemployment in Guinea. Their response to the hardships was to found circuses – Guillaume created Artcirq, Yamoussa started Kalabante.
BIG TOP WITHOUT BORDERS is a film of great beauty. It will be told through vérité footage of charismatic characters, and feature riveting circus performances and interviews shot on location. The crowded, colorful markets of Africa will contrast with the frozen, isolated Arctic tundra. Yet the story unfolds amidst great social and political turmoil in both communities. Visiting one another in their respective countries, the performers see how that despite their differences, they are mirror images of one another. Both are reclaiming their heritage through art and tradition. They begin to see themselves as empowered participants rather than victims, determined to build better futures for themselves, their families, and their communities.
BIG TOP WITHOUT BORDERS has important and timely global implications. It shows how the ripple effects of colonialism still resonate across the developing world today, including the tragic consequences of youth suicide, joblessness, and hopelessness. It reflects the profound sense of disorientation resulting from globalization and the lure of mass culture from the “South” for the Inuit, and the “North” for the Africans.