Saturday, July 5, 2008

We Are Together (Thins Simunye)

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Musical Documentary Examines Plight of South African AIDS Orphans

Grandma Zodwa Mqadi was working as an AIDS counselor in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa when she decided to do something about the fact that the epidemic had created over a million young orphans. For she witnessed that, invariably, dying parents would expressed a concern that their offspring be cared for in their absence. So, she founded Agape, an orphanage capable of housing about 30 AIDS orphans, a place appropriately named after the Greek word meaning unconditional love.
In 2003, the fledgling charity came to the attention of Paul Taylor who spent three months there as a volunteer. Deeply affected by what he witnessed, he soon returned with a camera and would devote the next several years of his life to making a movie about Zodwa and the children she’d adopted.
The upshot of those efforts is We Are Together, Taylor’s brilliant directorial debut and as inspirational a documentary as you could ever hope to find. Relying on music to grieve, bond and overcome their mutual hardships, the kids form a choir not only to help with the healing, but to make a CD, go on tour, and raise money to enable Grandma Zodwa to extend her services to more orphans.
This heartrending film focuses on the misfortunes of one family in particular, the Moyas, especially Slindile, now 17. She has been staying at Agape since she was 8 with three younger sisters and a younger brother. She also has a big brother, Sifiso, who is HIV+ and still lives at home over an hour away. We learn that he can’t afford the expensive AIDS medication, so he must make do with the Vitamin B he gets from a local hospice.
I guarantee that there won’t be a dry eye in the house by the time these innocent, wide-eyed waifs make their way from Africa to New York City to perform their well-rehearsed repertoire at an uplifting benefit concert.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG for mature themes.
In Zulu and English with subtitles.
Running time: 86 minutes
Studio: Palm Pictures

To see a trailer of We Are Together, visit:

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