Hot Docs 2015: The Circus Dynasty (2015) ★★★★


Some dreams are too beautiful to come true, but some are never meant to. The Circus Dynasty follows the story of Europe`s two greatest circus families. The Berdino family is one of the largest circus dynasties, while the Casselly Family is the world`s most award-winning. They, like no one else, deserve to live out their biggest dream – to perform one of the most difficult tricks at their show, to continue their legacy, and at last, to unite their family… until the moment when Patrick Berdino finds it too difficult to separate work from his feelings for Merrylu Casselly…

The Circus Dynasty is a love story, about relationships, a great family, their legacy, and their dreams which do not fit in with reality. Everything starts as if in a beautiful romance book, where two children fall for each other as they grow up together. Patrick Berdino and Merrylu Casselly are the heirs of the Casselly/Berdino Family. They both perform together, and seem to be a great match. Their family always travels together to perform one of the most dangerous tricks there is with the Elephants, as well as other dangerous aerobatics. It seems that even the other stars support the family so that they may achieve their goals… However, what happens in real life is not like what is written in fairy tales…Circus-Dynasty-2

It`s amazing how Anders Riis-Hansen translated all the Casselly/Berdino relationships in his film, allowing the audience to watch as if they were watching a feature film.  It`s an extremely profound, and interesting story that certainly won`t leave the viewer’s indifferent. Riis-Hansen captures all the Berdino/ Casselly`s emotions, plans, and their disappointment when they find their biggest dream will never come true. When an American director for one of the biggest shows in the world offers the Casselly Family a contract, many things change in a short time, which also impacts Patrick and Marrelu’s relationship.

The Circus Dynasty is a fascinating documentary film where the director does everything to make it compelling. It also make you think about your past, present and future, and more importantly, how you should set your goals for the future.  It can be an ongoing discussion as to what went wrong when the dreams of uniting a family were put at risk. Maybe it is all about the pressure, or maybe it is about the impossibility of controlling emotions…

But whatever it is, The Circus Dynasty certainly deserves applause from the viewers, because they do what they do best – entertain us though their pain, tears, and disappointment – which makes these families like so many others – normal!

Screening Information

TIFF Bell Lightbox 3 – April 25 – 6 p.m.
Isabel Bader Theatre – April 26 – 1 p.m.
Isabel Bader Theatre – May 1 – 4 p.m.

Talent Attending

Director Anders Riis-Hansen will be attending the first two screenings.

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