Tairo Caroli, Wendy Weber, Arthur Robin,
Each night, underneath a threadbare big top, Tairo puts an aging pride of big cats through their paces. Audiences may be dwindling, but the young lion tamer is happy, living a life that he’s dreamed of since he was a little boy. When some trailer park neighbors steal a cherished lucky charm, Tairo, uneasy without it, sets off down the back roads of Italy to find the strongman who bequeathed it to him many years ago. For this captivating docudrama, filmmaking duo Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel mine not only their own cinematic past—viewers first met young Tairo in their film La Pivellina—but that of Italy as well. The spirit of early Fellini can be felt in Mister Universo, alongside that of prime De Sica, as the workaday world of the circus, gently refracted though the lens of the filmmakers, reveals a sense of wonder that may fade, but will never be extinguished.