Behind the curtain – Even When I Fall (Film Review)


A powerful and uplifting piece intimately focused on a collective group of circus performers that have come together to raise global awareness on human trafficking in Nepal.

Having been victims themselves as children, stripped from their homes in Nepal and taken to India to work in the circus, they’ve chosen to use performing as a way to overcome their trauma, spread an important message and prevent the growing number of women and children being trafficked around the world.

Even When I Fall (2017) is a documentary that’ll prove difficult throughout as the viewer becomes more and more accustomed to the performer’s inner struggle, but will result in a rewarding experience after witnessing the success the performers manage to reach.

The piece begins with images of children at the Indian circus stretching, practicing their acrobatics and crammed into small living spaces. All of this without consent, the children believed they were simply visiting the circus. These children are trained to entertain at an early age and if they’re not performing as desired, they’re beaten.

This tragic reality had become everyday life to the performers, the circus being their home. The viewer meets them after they’ve spent years in the circus, during their reluctant rescue by workers at the rehabilitation center in Kathmandu, Nepal. The circus loses almost all of their performers and the performers lose what they felt home was. That home having produced their identity.

Our magnifying glass is on two individuals – Sheetal and Saraswoti. Sheetal, unable to retrace her age, her roots, she’s missing what to most, is their first understanding of themselves.

Saraswoti, trafficked at a young age was forced to become a woman at the ignorant age of 14, after marrying and shortly having three children of her own. These two strong women do their best to rebuild their lives, without a form of education and against what their families call “fate.”

Homed at the rehabilitation center, the returnees are encouraged to participate in a circus-themed show for the public. Performing is all they know, the show is well received and the applause returns them to the sensation they love and managed to give birth to Circus Kathmandu – Nepal’s first ever circus.

The intimacy of the piece comes directly from the shoot having span over the space of six years, those six years are molded into an emotionally satisfying hour and a half journey. The vibrant performances are captured by cinematographer Ben Marshall (Worst Gift, 2017) jumping from the extravagant to the intimate which brilliantly mirrors the reality of life on and off the stage for these individuals.

Although the documentary follows these performers at vulnerable times, suffering times, the director’s approach towards it isn’t to pity but to celebrate. These performers endure and take what few resources they have to promote change and raise awareness.

Even When I Fall (2017) is a must watch as it provides a clear education on human trafficking, the circus in India and the struggles that can come to those in poverty.

Dir: Sky Neal & Kate McLarnon

Scr: Robyn Simpson & Dennis Wheatley

Cast: Saraswoti & Sheetal

Prd: Elhum Shakerifar & Lizzie Francke

DOP: Ben Marshall

Music: Jeremy Lane

Even When I Fall (2017) is available on DVD 9th July 2018

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