Premiering this month at the Atlanta Film Festival, the brazilian documentary Without A Net, helmed by Kelly J. Richardson follows a group of young men and women who, struggling to survive in the controlled drug slums of Rio de Janeiro, take their chances and prepare for the town’s circus act.
Here’s the full story from the film’s website:
Djeferson, Bárbara, Rayana and Platini
live in a drug controlled slum of Rio de Janeiro. Their families are struggling, their homes are physically unstable, and everyone they know has dropped out of school.
When a big-top circus tent suddenly appears in a nearby parking lot, they decide to take a chance. They learn trapeze, acrobatics, juggling and contortion, then audition for the end-of-year show, rehearse and prepare for the curtains to part on opening night. Along the way, “Without A Net” celebrates the perseverance and resilience of youth in the face of tremendous odds.
I came to this project through a deep personal connection with performance art. In 2006, after years of physical training in gymnastics, dance and theater, I moved to Salvador, Brazil, where I began training and performing with a local circus. The circus I joined incorporated various components including a social project, which targeted children and youth living in the nearby slums who were deemed “at-risk” for getting involved with the drug trade and other crime.
The social project provided the participants with teachers, a space to practice and opportunities to perform. As our practice times regularly overlapped, I got to know the young performers and heard stories about their lives, rife with the typical dangers and excitement of inner city poverty. Their tales were of close calls with the police and drug gangs, memories of incarcerated or deceased siblings, the manifold challenges of getting enough food to eat, clothes to wear and a safe enough place to sleep at night while constantly maintaining the street-wise appearance of ease. They spent long afternoons under the hot tent, striving to maintain balance on the tightrope and the trapeze, and they laughed about the inadequacies of the school system, the elusive nature of perception and reality, their complex social networks and the seductive appeal of the drug trade. I laughed with them as we sweated through our push-ups side-by-side, and the first sparks of the project that would become “Without A Net” began to flicker.
– Kelly J Richardson
Interesting story, watch the trailer below.