Eye For Film >> Movies >> We Are Together (2006) Film Review
We Are Together
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Twelve-year-old Slindile has a smile like the sun breaking through rain. It has a warmth and a freshness that seems all the more incredible when you consider the emotional loss she has suffered. For Slindile is an orphan and, although she frequently visits her older siblings who still live in the family home in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal, for the most part she lives at the Agape orphanage with other kids who have almost all lost their parents to the ravages of AIDs.
Despite losing much, however, the hope in these children still burns strong and is perhaps never more apparent than when they join together to sing in beautiful harmony.
“I sing a song to remember my mother,” says Slindile, and she is not alone. The children’s culture places an emphasis on song within the family, meaning they grow up with it. As a local celebrity musician puts it: “We can’ all speak at once but we can all sing at once.”
Director Paul Taylor was a volunteer at the orphanage for three months and it was only after returning to the UK that he had the idea of shooting a film of the children as they in turn attempt to record a CD which they hope will bring in much-needed funds, that will help them to expand the orphanage.
The resulting documentary, certainly does tell that story – complete with all its triumphs and setbacks. But this is also the story of Slindile’s brother Sifiso, who gradually and devastatingly succumbs to AIDs during the course of the film. Most of all, however, this is the story of hope in adversity and of working hard to you’re your dream into a reality.
Taylor has created a highly emotional document, capturing life as it is for Slidile, her blood relatives and her extended family at the orphanage. Because he knew the children prior to picking up a camera, there is a closeness to his filming and a naturalness to the testimony. There are moments of joy so sublime, you feel your heart swell with the sound of the children’s voices and segments of sadness as sharp as a scalpel.
All of the profits from the theatrical, DVD and soundtrack release of the film will be donated to an education program for the children of Agape and kids affected by HIV/AIDs. But as the clutch of audience awards (at the EIFF and Tribeca Film Festivals among others) testify, this isn’t a piece to see just because it is worthy, it is a documentary that will take you on a journey as emotional as it is uplifting.
Slindile writes in her blog on the www.wearetogether.org website: “The film has shown me that life goes on whatever happened in the past, I shouldn’t stick on it because in life there are bad and good times. I have learnt a lot about the movie and I hope it will help more people living with HIV and some who have no parents.” She adds: “When we watched it for the first time it was just me and my family and we cried a lot. But it also made us laugh a lot so I like the film for that.” And so say all of us.Reviewed on: 26 Aug 2007
If you like this, try:We'll Never Meet Childhood Again