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Sawdust: Life in The Ring

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Editorial Reviews

And you thought your family was a circus!

"Sawdust" explores the lives of a legendary family of circus performers, the Zoppès, who have been thrilling audiences around the globe since 1842. This Italian family specializes in Old World, one-ring circuses - the kind that used to traverse the American countryside before insurance companies and circus magnates such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey transformed their artistry into a corporate entity.

"Sawdust" unfolds over the course of a week and chronicles the Zoppè Family Circus' first visit to Chicago, showcasing a colorful cast of characters and their sometimes death-defying work. It features intimate conversations with Giovanni Zoppè, a Chaplin-esque clown and producer of the circus; his father, Alberto Zoppè, an 80-year-old equestrian and featured performer in the film "The Greatest Show on Earth"; Rudolf Heinen, a dog trainer and former lion/tiger wrangler for "Siegfried and Roy"; and other family members and artists.

"Sawdust" pulls back the curtain to reveal the performers' humanity and their unique relationship with the dying art of the family circus. Using contemporary footage and vintage home movies, the film illuminates a lifestyle misunderstood by many and offers a rare glimpse into the minds of individuals who put their lives on the line for the entertainment of others.

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