the characters of the film
The main character of the film is the group of clowns consisting of Sabine Choucair from Lebanon and Kolleen Kintz, Jan Damm and the logistician Tamara Palmer from the United States. Along the way we meet Jean-Sebastien Lopez who decides to join the clowns on their trip and have a closer look to what the media has been propagating during the refugee influx on the Greek islands.
Sabine is a Lebanese clown and storyteller, certified in social therapy and performing arts. She has been clowning around the world with her group Clown Me In and Clowns without Borders for the past 10 years. She initiated and was the team leader of the first trip to Lesvos with CWB in October2015. Sabine’s presence during the Lesvos trip is shaped by a an empathetic energy and motivation. Even though the group of clowns is faced with challenges and difficulties from the very beginning, she mostly resists frustration. Yet, the narrative layer of the film revealed in a conversation with her sister turns the trip to a highly personal one of remembrance. In order to survive the displacement, Sabine the child used to thrive in the company of two imaginary friends, Hadi and Madi: An unconscious reaction to her stolen childhood.
Kolleen is an A merican clown, photographer and musician. She joined the Clowns Without Borders team in2011, and performed in Indonesia and Haiti. Joining the Lesvos mission was an opportunity to connect with families in need of empathy as they navigated unimaginable challenges. Her presence in the film is verbally very subtle, and is mostly expressed through her clown Character. She is the only one to maintain her clownish attitude throughout the journey. Her presence highlights the irony of the clowns trying to break through the bureaucratic red tape.
Jan is an American clown, juggler, and circus creator. He has traveled on relief missions with Clowns Without Borders to Haiti, Indonesia, Lebanon, and beyond. It is through Jan's frustration that the spectator gets to understand the limitations faced by the clowns. He is the only character to reveal the presence of the camera by addressing it directly and therefore questioning the functionality of the medium in this context.
Tamara is not a professional clown herself but an exveteran. Joining CWB, she found a space where her input is highly appreciated and regarded as meaningful. Coming from a farmer family, she ended up joining the American army in order to finance her higher education. This resulted in her being sent to Iraq, serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. By volunteering with the clowns on their mission as the project logistician, Tamara tries to make up for the atrocities she witnessed during the Iraq war.
Sebastien is a French/Belgian scriptwriter and director. He saw a viral video made by AJ+ covering the performances of CWB on Lesvos in 2015. He was very much moved by the joy and the laughter resulting from the refugees interaction with the clowns, got in touch with Sabine, and decided to join the clowns on their second mission to Lesvos. Being the only European among the group, Sebastien's presence and critical thinking allows us to reflect on Europe’s refugee politics. It also brings to the front a point of view different from what the media is propagating to the world.