Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Luminous and Daring Trapeze Act

In Hollywood, Philip Weyland is best known for his association with William Shatner. The two are friends, and over the years, Weyland has worked on various film and TV projects as Shatner's stand-in and dialogue coach. He's also done stunts and some other film work.

This weekend, Weyland will be attending Florida's Saratoga Film Festival in a different capacity: as a lifelong circus fan and debuting documentary director. His film The Last Great Circus Flyer, years in the making and even more years in the researching, will premiere in the city where its two main subjects - brothers Juan and Miguel Vazquez - were raised.

[l to r] Juan, Weyland, Miguel
(©Philip Weyland)

Last year, Miguel was honored with a plaque at Saratoga's Circus Ring of Fame. He will be back in town for Friday's premiere and an encore screening on Saturday. From a recent profile piece by

Miguel Vazquez at the age of 16 accomplished a feat no trapeze artist had successfully pulled off despite 100 years' worth of attempts. As he flew through the air, he performed a quadruple somersault, turning over four times in the sky as he flew away from a swinging bar and into his brother Juan’s waiting arms.
The first time he successfully pulled off the trick in practice, it made headlines around the country. When he performed the stunt during a 1982 Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus show in front of a live audience (not to mention a video camera Feld Entertainment set up to prove the deed indeed could be done), it earned mentions in Time, the New York Times and on the NBC Nightly News...
Today, Miguel works as a rigging tech and flyman operator for Cirque de Soleil in Las Vegas; Juan works across town at Le Reve, another famed Strip circus show. But the team’s accomplishment remains a major milestone in the circus arts. Juan has a niece now involved in the circus, and who knows, maybe Miguel’s sons will want a chance in the spotlight one day.

In the film, Weyland profiles other circus performers as well. Sadly, during production, one of those he hoped to interview, Tito Montoya, died as a result of injuries sustained during a 2010 performance under the big top in South Carolina.

[Director's Statement]

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