After several minutes of observing former trapeze artist Carmen Sanchez vigorously exercising, swimming and going about her daily chores, it comes as a shocker when David Moncasi’s “The Swinging Doll” reveals Sanchez is 83 and blind. Docu and its life-hungry subject take in these supposed impediments matter-of-factly, which is the entire point of this compact and intelligent portrait of a performer who rose above personal tragedy. An ideal entry for fests of all stripes, pic will draw applause for its refusal to pander to sympathies.
Sanchez’s impressive daily regimen — exercise, aerobics, walking and swimming in the inviting waters of the beachside resort of Sitges — is capped with visits to her favorite dancing clubs. Despite her blindness (caused by a woeful medical accident), the old gal would seem to have the ideal senior lifestyle. Her offspring continue the family circus tradition, and Sanchez’s visit to experience their act in Brittany makes for a lovely tribute to the traditional ringtop culture, while revealing some emotional rifts between family members as well as the realities of circus life’s tenuous nature.