Premiere for history-making film by Belfast circus performer

A still from The Pitts Family Circus movie
A still from The Pitts Family Circus movie

The European premiere of the groundbreaking debut film by a Belfast-based circus performer takes place at Belfast Film Festival on Saturday night.

The film – which features a circus family based in Australia – makes history by being the world’s first blockchain-funded movie.

Director and circus performer Ken Fanning, 44, who has been based in east Belfast for the past 20 years, started a blockchain film campaign in 2016 when “only freaks and geeks knew how to handle the technology”.

He said: “What we did was leverage a technology called blockchain technology – the technology behind bitcoin – to create a token called Ethereum which is a ticket to watch our movie online and also gives you voting rights on projects we will do in the future.

“We’re the first film company to do that. We beat them all to it.”

As well as helping to fund the film, blockchain technology is a central theme in it.

Director Ken Fanning and producer Tony Caradonna

Director Ken Fanning and producer Tony Caradonna

The plot centres around an Australian circus family who get themselves into trouble over a cryptocurrency wallet that belongs to a Swiss aristocratic family.

The film, which was shot in Australia and Switzerland and edited in Belfast by Stuart Sloan, has already won a series of awards around the world.

Mr Fanning said: “We made this with hardly any money and with no script. We improvised the entire thing so to end up getting its premiere at a Hollywood film festival then pick up an award was just amazing.”

He said he plans to shoot his next film in his bathroom as it happens to be the biggest room in his house.

The film has won a number of awards

The film has won a number of awards

The Irish premiere of The Pitts Family Circus is at QFT on Saturday at 9.15pm.

It will also feature a Q&A with the creative team behind the film.

Producer Toni Caradonna said: “Originally we were a bunch of circusfreaks and cryptopunks that always wanted to tell the amazing story of this unique circus family.

“We were absolutely blown away with the success of our independent movie that is so not Hollywood.”

He added: “With the advent of Ethereum we felt this is a gamechanger. We believe that blockchain technology will have the same impact on society as the internet did.

“For the first time in history, humans are delegating trust away from institutions and people to machines and processes. With every disruptive innovation technology that can be both good and bad.

“In our case it empowered us and our community to create a piece of art that does not follow mainstream. We strongly believe in diversity in society and in the arts too. The fact that Ethereum has made this possible and gave art the voice we think it merits is a good thing.

“This movie about this amazing family is the proof that blockchains like Ethereum actually do have a real world impact that is way above the boring trading business. The fact that I have been invited to talk to ambassadors, consuls and even the assistant director of the Swiss National Bank shows that this could be big.”