Circus Without Borders is an enlightening tale of two circus troupes from opposite ends of the globe who converge to realize a common dream. Using circus arts as a means of self-expression and cultural exchange, the two circuses —Artcirq in the Canadian Arctic and Kalabante in West Africa—give youth in two of the world’s most challenged communities the tools to travel beyond their borders and succeed. The film is a beautiful performance piece; a portal into two remote cultures; and an inspiring story of joy and heartbreak with universal relevance.
The film culminates with a performance in Ottawa that blends Artcirq’s traditions and repertoire with the magic of Yamoussa’s acrobatics. The performers discover that, while they all face enormous and painful challenges, if they work hard, believe in themselves and embrace their own history and culture, “the rest will come.”
Viewing the Film:
Further study of documentary medium and extended activity:
1. Work in groups of 3–5 to review a type of documentary mode and review an example. Discuss elements in group, and then in jigsaw groups to have cross discussions about the types of documentaries
Expository: Choose excerpt from History Channel Documentaries: The War in Vietnam
Participatory: Class Participation, A Documentary
Reflexive: The Road
Performative: Supersize Me
Go to one the following sites to review the definition of each type of documentary.
In home groups, discuss what elements were most dominant in Circus Without Borders.
Optional Extended Activity
Work in small groups to create a 1–2 minute documentary about dreams for yourselves or the world. This can be a group project or individual projects within one group. Use this or a similar rubric to discuss guidelines for self-evaluation.
- Review different technology for making a short documentary (e.g. iMovie). Decide on technology and begin. This is a two-week independent project that will be balanced between homework for production and classwork for discussion and review.
- Identify documentary topic/theme and mode.
- Create a storyboard outline of proposed interviews, images, texts, narration, music, etc.
This can be drawn or completed on a PowerPoint document.
- Begin finalizing project
- Consider having a short film festival option to share student work with parents or other members of the community. Class website and local cable television may also be options for sharing student work.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
The Alchemists by Paulo Coelho
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
This curriculum guide shared with the permission of the Boston Globe Foundation.
Fourth set of exercises for students who will be watching "Circus Without Borders." Created by Jane Skelton for the Boston Globe Foundation.
Related Common Core State Standards
ELA Informational Text
RI.8.2., RI.8.4., RI.8.6.
RI. 9-10.2., RI.9-10.4., RI.9-10.6.
RI.11-12.2., RI.11-12.4., RI.11-12.5., RI.11-12.6.