Soo Film Festival 2023

Block 14-Being Satori Circus

Feature, 96 min, Not rated  Q&A with filmmaker Mark Finnell

Being Satori Circus
Being Satori Circus

About This Program

The feature documentary: Being Satori Circus ~ A Performance Documentary in Five Acts.

Being Satori Circus ~ A Performance Documentary in Five Acts

Director: Mark Finnell

Documentary Feature, United States, 2022, 96 min, Black and White and Color

Detroit filmmaker M.L. Finnell explores the underground subculture and music of Satori Circus, an unsung performance artist from Detroit. This film uses performative qualities and live performances.

Great Lakes Connection

This is a 100% Michigan-made film. The subject is an artist from Detroit. The filmmaker is a Michigan native. All of the interviewees and artists are also from Michigan.

Cast & Crew:

Director: Mark Finnell
Writers: Mark Finnell, K.B. Nemcosky
Producers: Mark Finnell, Tina Gloss-Finnell
Key Cast: Satori Circus, Tina Gloss-Finnell, James Kenneth Graham

Other Credits 

Editor: Michael Pfeandtner
Principal Photography: Brett J. Lawrence

Director Mark Finnell
Director Biography

Mark Lawrence Finnell is a Detroit, Michigan native. After living in San Francisco for a time, Mark took the unusual route of returning to university at the age of 29. He graduated from West Virginia University with a BA/BFA in 1995. He was then awarded a full scholarship and graduated with an MFA in Performance (Acting and Directing) from the Hilberry Repertory Theatre at Wayne State University (Detroit) in 1998.

After 12 years in Los Angeles working as a professional actor, marketing professional, and corporate facilitator/trainer for automotive manufacturers, he returned to Michigan in 2010. His first foray into writing, producing, and directing for film was his own Restoration Dogs, “a transformative adaptation” set in 1670s London from his stage play.

He also wrote the screenplay, acted in, and directed a short film, Dog Tag, about a father who refuses to believe that his son died in Iraq. This short film screened at many Michigan venues.

In addition, Mark wrote, directed, and produced three silent short films with Satori Circus that have screened at various film festivals in Michigan.

He has written, directed, and produced his first feature-length independent documentary film: Being Satori Circus ~ A Performance Documentary in Five Acts about Detroit’s performance artist, Satori Circus.

Mark continues to work as a facilitator, actor, voice-over artist, teacher, and coach and resides just outside of Detroit in Ferndale, Michigan, with his wife of 24 years, Tina Gloss-Finnell.

Director Statement

Being Satori Circus ~ A Performance Documentary in Five Acts is a Hybrid Documentary using performative aspects. Just as the character of Satori Circus is a performance artist, so I sought to give a performance quality to a nonfiction documentary on this subject. The performative nature includes live (concert) performances, as well as fictional elements to fill out the artist’s life.

Being Satori Circus seeks to share the subculture that has evolved around this performance artist over the last 34 years in Detroit, Michigan. I want to take my audience on an entertaining journey and show what is unique and mysterious about Satori Circus. What is performance art? How did it all begin? How does Satori Circus define who he is? What is his ‘Being’?

We explore his early years, how he has morphed into what he has become, and how others involved in this artistic community “see” him. We look at how photographers see him, the meaning of his ever-changing make-up, what has influenced him, and how he is a cultural part of the city that formed him: Detroit. Also, the documentary shows and informs all the various aspects of what he does.

We also explore the continuing nature of what his art is through live performance and the diverse viewpoints of those who know him, as well as Satori Circus in his own words. This relatively unknown and certainly unsung artist’s aspects and journey is told in part by the filmmaker himself as the audience is led through this experience of discovery.


Detroit Free Press Film Festival (Detroit, Michigan), April 26, 2023, North American Premiere

Poster: Being Satori Circus

More Info:


Sunday, Sep 17, 5:30pm

Soo Theatre

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