Director: Paul Taylor | 83 minutes | documentary
Sindile Moya is twelve years old and one of twenty-five orphans from the Agape orphanage somewhere in South Africa. She has a beautiful voice and likes to sing. In this way she keeps the memory of her mother alive. On the weekends she goes home with her smaller sisters and brother. A few big sisters and her brother live in the parental home. They like to be together and sing a lot. The children also have singing lessons every day in the orphanage. The intention is that they will record a CD in England in order to generate more money for the orphanage. But that will not happen. Fortunately, the CD will be released, in fact, they’ll be on stage with Alicia Keys and Paul Simon for a big concert one day. That is a good thing, because the orphanage has suffered some setbacks and money is desperately needed.
The film “We Are Together” is moving and poignant. But the sudden transitions are incoherent and frustrating to the viewer. For example, the children’s choir are suddenly in New York singing with Paul Simon without us having been able to sympathize with all these developments. We also do not get to know how the mutual relationships are or how they experience the entire journey to this totally different world. A missed opportunity.
Slindile has the lead role and does a lot of talking. She is open-hearted but has difficulty facing factual and unpleasant matters. She is sweet and naive and you just hope there are enough sisters around her to help her grow up. The bond she and her family have with each other is heartwarming, so that seems to be going well. Many (Western) families can learn from them to have a sense of togetherness that overcomes all adversity. In “We Are Together” they are really together! It is striking that Slindile co-determined / wrote the scenario. This form of collaboration between director and lead actress could have been explained, that would have been interesting.
It took Taylor three years to make the film and in those years a lot of orphans were added to South Africa. Almost all children are orphans because their parents died of AIDS. As one of the sisters also says: “This didn’t just happen to us.” With a few million orphans, this is an understatement, and it gives a tremendous sense of hopelessness. The documentary was screened at IDFA 2006 and won both the Audience Award and the First Appearance Award. In 2007 it won the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival.