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We Are Together (Thina Simunye) (2006)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 194 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 13 critic

Tells the moving and inspiring story of 12 year old Slindile and her remarkable friends at the Agape orphanage in South Africa.

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Title: We Are Together (Thina Simunye) (2006)

We Are Together (Thina Simunye) (2006) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Herself
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Herself
Mbali ...
Herself
Mthobisi Moya ...
Himself
Nonkululeko Moya ...
Herself
Sifiso Moya ...
Himself
Slindile Moya ...
Herself
Swaphiwe Moya ...
Herself
'Grandma' Zodwa Mqadi ...
Herself
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Himself
...
Himself
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Storyline

WE ARE TOGETHER tells the moving and inspiring story of 12 year old Slindile and her remarkable friends at the Agape orphanage in South Africa. Filmed over three years, with unforgettable kids, soaring music and a plot full of surprises, WE ARE TOGETHER arrives as a stirring and uplifting theatrical documentary. Written by RISE

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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The musical journey of a lifetime

Genres:

Documentary | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some thematic elements
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Release Date:

7 March 2008 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

We Are Together (Thina Simunye)  »

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Budget:

£100,000 (estimated)
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1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Songs from the heart - inhale deeply at the magic of existence
16 August 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

What do you do/feel/say when a sweet child recounts her heart-breaking personal circumstances . . .

Aged 12, Slindile Moya explains in a matter-of-fact way that she is an orphan. One brother is dying. Her other brother and sisters live with her in a crowded orphanage. Jennifer Lopez posters adorn the wall.

Before you can go, "ahhhh . . ." and reach for the hankies, she finishes her tale by looking up at you with the most heart-warming, charismatic smile imaginable. An infectious smile. A smile that comes from deep elation. It spreads like a glow inside me as I watch her in awe. A love of life that most of us, in our wealthier Western circumstances, merely dream of. An inspiration. A childish mischievousness. And a delight in something more solid in our ever-changing world. I think, here is a child who has practically nothing, and she's making me feel good about life.

Indulge me - inhale deeply at the magic of existence, together, now.

We Are Together is a film is about strong inner emotion. And using it almost like rocket fuel through misfortune. Filmmaker Paul Taylor is impelled to go to Africa - not to make a movie – but (at least initially) as a volunteer in the orphanage. Just following his feelings. The same as these children that don't learn to sing for fame and fortune. They feel like it. They learn for the joy of singing.

A young girl raises her voice to intone words her mother taught her. It fills her heart with beauty, and her subsequent account with memories. Is it the film or is it her? I can't tell my childhood memories like that.

African pop star Zwai puts the singing into a context of large families without music entertainment: "Singing is the one thing that everyone can do at once. We can't all speak at once, but we can all sing at once." It's an African thing apparently.

All children at Agape home sing. Every day, after school. Speaking on camera or to the children there, Slindile explains that Agape is their orphanage. But to other kids, she takes pride in saying it is, "a place for children who sing". It makes you wonder for a minute - their dedicated vocal coach somehow gives them more than a maths teacher could.

Paul Taylor returned from his vocational work at the end of his break from film school. He goes back to Africa after finishing his studies, spending three years filming with people he is already close to. Fairly early on, we become aware that many children's' parents have died from AIDS. "Does it ever cross your mind," the interviewer asks, "that your {older} brother might have AIDS?" She answers: "Yeah, I sometimes think of that, because it is usually the cause when someone is ill." (Side note: how many films about AIDS can you think of that are fun? Let alone one of the best feelgood films you'll see this year?) Eventually the older brother goes into the hospice. He is diagnosed as HIV-positive, given some vitamin B, and discharged. Siblings visit regularly. In one of the best scenes, the dying man raises himself from his bed long enough to correct them on small points of their songs. At his funeral they sing, "Sleep, our conqueror, and rest." A Jesus-warbling charity-worker from England suggests a music CD and a trip to England. She teaches them to sing, "Oh happy day, when Jesus washed our sins away." The trip to England falls through, but the South African pop singer helps the kids get the CD finished. And people take notice. This was the only fly in the ointment, for me, trying to get Jesus into the mix. This is not to deny the wonderful work done by Christian charities. Catholic organizations alone mercifully provide around 25 percent of the care AIDS victims receive worldwide. Yet it is maybe tempting to give credit to such agencies even though they also contribute to the problem. In 2003, President Bush declared he would spend $15bn on his emergency plan for Aids relief, but only if abstinence was emphasised over condoms. Religious fundamentalists, some financially supported by the US government, attack condom use. South African Cardinal Wilfred Napier even said there is "no evidence" that condom promotion works to prevent HIV transmission and that, as a contraceptive, condoms have a failure rate. A South African HIV advocacy group said his comments had set back the group's work "by years." But the work of more sensible, ordinary Christians is used to justify the excesses of Catholicism and Fundamentalism in the name of 'Jesus'.

In Slindile's large family, only the oldest sister has a job. She worries about earning enough for food for several mouths. Both parents are dead. (A married woman living in Southern Africa is at higher risk of becoming infected with HIV than an unmarried woman. Abstinence and fidelity do not protect her; she is probably already monogamous. It is her husband who is likely to have HIV. Yet refusing a husband's sexual overtures risks ostracism, violence, and destitution. Abstaining from sex is not a choice many women have in the developing world. Preaching fidelity and abstinence assumes that a woman can determine with whom she sleeps and when — which is a severe misunderstanding of the relations between the sexes when women are sometimes betrothed at birth or sold for livestock.) We Are Together is one of those greatest of achievement – the success of human struggle.

Profits from the film go to help the children.


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