FILM: Life on the Tightrope


Berkeley alum Kelly J. Richardson documents her time with an urban circus in Brazil and its affect on neighborhood young people in "Without A Net."

The year is 2008 and the scenario a violent slum controlled by drug gangs in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A big-top circus tent is set in an abandoned parking lot in Praça Onze, a district in the heart of Rio. Inside the tent, children and young adults participate in a project called Circo Social (Social Circus). They learn the art of the trapeze, acrobatics, juggling, and contortionism as an alternative to the violent and crime-ridden life outside the tent. For these aspiring performers, life is a struggle. Their homes are unstable, and most people in their community — themselves included — have dropped out of school. The circus project is perhaps the best thing they have ever experienced in their lives.

Débora Silva
Publication date: 
August 16, 2012
Publication type: 
Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies Article