Cirque du Cambodia, a documentary film about two young Cambodian circus performers, is set to have its world premiere on Oct. 21 at the United Nations Association Film Festival. The film is available for anyone in California to register to screen online for free as part of the festival's educational programming.
The 90-minute documentary took eight years to film in four countries. Filmmaker Joel Gershon said it’s a story of two young Cambodian teenagers from a rural village in Cambodia, whose lives have been changed after they attended a “social circus” movement at the Phare Ponleu Selpak school located in Battambang.
“The school teaches arts to at-risk youths from challenging backgrounds, and these programs give kids the chance at a better life. It builds community, confidence, self-esteem, creativity, empathy and makes them good social citizens,” said Gershon in an email to VOA Khmer.
“The film follows two young men Dina Sok and Sopha Nem over 8 years as these talented young men win full scholarships to the National Circus School of Montreal to train for their dream of becoming a member of Cirque du Soleil,” Gershon stated.
Sopha and Dina first started at Phare Ponleu Selpak, a non-government organization, a home and a place of hope for thousands of vulnerable children who have social and financial problems in their families.
The pair had a chance to study and work at Phare as they grew up. They were talented and fast learners which led to them being admitted to study in Montreal, according to Dara Huot, chief executive officer at Phare Performing Social Enterprise.
“Sopha and Dina were just 16 and 17 when they went to Canada. They have shown their admirable talents. They are fast learners. They worked hard and were willing to learn. Therefore, their teachers recognized their ability and talent and encouraged them to show their talent through videos. We then sent the videos to the National Circus School of Montreal in Canada.”
Cirque du Cambodia, according to the filmmaker, will also have a global virtual screening on Nov. 20 UN World Children’s Day, as a benefit for Phare Ponleu Selpak school and the two stars of the film