Roll up, roll up, for a documentary experience like no other. Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson takes footage from the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield and assembles a fascinating mosaic of the lives of circus folk and other acts.

He never forgets the human faces behind the sequinned costumes or the heavy clown make-up, but nor does he shy away from the less tasteful aspects of the big top. You’ll gasp with delight at the acrobats and strongmen, but the unspeakably cruel treatment of performing animals will make you turn your head away in shame.

Superb editing an an electrifying soundtrack from Sigur Rós tie The Greatest Shows on Earth together, turning a century’s worth of disparate images into a beautiful and poetic whole.



DIRECTOR: Benedikt Eringsson

SYNOPSIS: In this film, rarities and never-before seen footage of fairgrounds, circus entertainment, freak shows, variety performances, music hall and seaside entertainment are chronicled from the 19th and 20th century.

Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015 runs from June 5th-10th. Tickets are still available, and One Room With A View’s coverage will continue throughout the festival.