Dawn Porter is nothing if not prolific. The documentary filmmaker has added yet another project to her slate. Just weeks ago it was announced that the Emmy-nominated director will helm a multi-part film about women in sports for ESPN and now word comes that she’s joining forces with MGM Television on a doc about Cirque du Soleil. Deadline reports that Porter is directing and exec producing the project, which will “pull back the curtain to tell the inside story of Cirque du Soleil’s resurgence after the most difficult period in its history.”
Filming on the project has already kicked off and “will continue through opening night on July 1, when Cirque du Soleil’s show ‘O’ will make its return to the stage at Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas,” the source notes. “For the first time in its 37-year history, Cirque du Soleil has granted exclusive access to the circus, from the ringmasters in the boardroom to the world-class acrobats and divers that grace the water stage of ‘O.’ ‘O,’ like all live shows, was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the health crisis, Cirque du Soleil had performed 52,000 shows for more than 70M people in Vegas as well as to audiences around the world. Hardest hit were the artists themselves and their stories are at the center of Porter’s film.”
“Like so many people, I have always been enthralled with the beauty and mystery of Cirque du Soleil and fascinated with the extraordinarily talented people who make the seemingly impossible come to life,” said Porter. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to document Cirque’s biggest challenge, a return to the stage after one of the world’s greatest crises. The performers, cast, company, and crew are giving their all to make this the biggest premiere of their careers. This is a magnificent story and I’m so grateful to be able to tell it.”
“Tulsa and the Red Summer,” Porter’s documentary exploring the lead up to the 1921 Tulsa Massacre that saw white mobs attacking “Black Wall Street,” premiered in June on National Geographic. She also recently co-directed “The Me You Can’t See,” a five-part docuseries about mental health hosted by Oprah Winfrey that’s currently screening on Apple TV+.
Porter made her directing debut with “Gideon’s Army,” an Emmy-nominated portrait of three Black public defenders in the South. “Trapped,” her investigation into how women’s reproductive rights have been impacted by “TRAP” (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws that have been passed by conservative state legislatures across the U.S., won a Peabody Award. “The Way I See It” and “John Lewis: Good Trouble” are among her other credits.