Cole Bros. Circus documentary will show Sat. in Deland
Deland is the winter home and headquarters of the Cole Brothers Circus, one of a handful of tent shows still struggling to make a go of it on the road in the HDTV era. And this Saturday, a documentary about that circus will play in the historic Athens Theatre. Michael Knox, 36, a Florida native and now a North Carolina filmmaker, has ties to that circus and wanted to document it before it was too late.
“My grandmother and grandfather worked for the Clyde Beatty/Cole Brothers Circus. When I was a kid, I used to travel with them. I’d ride elephants bareback, I’d work with the clowns, sell concessions, help put up the tent, all that stuff. My mom still works in the office of the circus and she was telling me about the struggles it was going through. If something’s about to shut down, or is in danger, that’s a good story to tell. I’d hate it if there was no real memory of this circus. I’d been working as a reporter (The Salisbury Post and The Independent Tribune in Charlotte, in N.C.) and gotten into film production. So we went to Wilmington, where they had a one-week long run, and filmed them there.” The film captures the world that circus people live in and the pressures (immigration issues for the performers and crew, fuel costs) facing such a troupe in the 21st century. Showtime is 1:30 p.m. at the Athens Theater, tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for kids.