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Anna Leah Jacobson 05F

Submitted by on July 12, 2013 – 10:17 amNo Comment

During her visit to Hampshire as a prospective student, Anna Leah Jacobson 05F found herself “completely won over by the people.” Jacobson says she “saw it was a place where creative, smart people come together to learn together and from each other,” and made the decision to attend, initially thinking she wanted to be a human rights lawyer. Now, eight years later, she has found herself in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to finance the completion of The Balancing Act, a documentary about an underground circus in Brooklyn.

After a few years of cultural and political studies, she says that “Hampshire showed me that I could do good with a camera, as well as in the courtroom,” and her Div III project was a thirty minute film examining the Palestinian community in Brooklyn.

After graduation, Jacobson moved to New York, interning as a film editor, and last year started her own company, Awake Films, focused so far on producing social documentaries and performance/event videos, including a music video for fellow alum, Rachel Ann Weiss 06F and various underground events like warehouse parties and living room concerts. The company’s largest project is currently The Balancing Act.

While at Hampshire, Jacobson was involved with both the belly dance troupe and the circus, performance practices she maintained when she moved to New York. After performing at the House of Yes, an underground circus in Brooklyn, she developed a fascination in the workings of the circus, befriending the performers in the process. “I realized that they were spectacular in more than just their shows – they were a self-driven community, reliant on each other to make their dreams come true. And there is an incredible amount of love in the room every day, even when they argue,” she says.

She filmed for a year with House of Yes, watching the circus provide entertainment to the city’s covert nightlife. More than a mere portrait of a circus, Jacobson says, it is “the story of the two best friends running the House of Yes, and how they balance ambition and love while taking their spectacles to the next level. The film explores the nature of friendship, artistry, and collaboration. Plus, it’s fun to watch the ladies flip.”

Jacobson hopes to complete The Balancing Act in the coming year, and move forward with documentary work about rebuilding efforts in Haiti and human rights in the Middle East. No matter what the topic, Jacobson insists, “the experiments I did in the media basement of the Hampshire library stay with me in all my work.”

by Matt Krefting 99F