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.
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.
Joel Gershon is a journalist, documentary filmmaker and professor in media studies, currently teaching at the School of Communication at American University in Washington D.C. In 2017, he came back to the US after living abroad in Bangkok for 12 years, where he worked as a TV reporter and producer, writer, and university professor.
He stumbled across the magical school Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang, Cambodia in 2011, and from that experience, “Cirque du Cambodia” was born. Filming was done in four countries over eight years to capture Sopha and Dina’s improbable quest to become the first Cambodians to perform with Cirque du Soleil.