IMDb > We Are Together (Thina Simunye) (2006) > Reviews & Ratings - IMDb
We Are Together (Thina Simunye)
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Index 11 reviews in total 

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

We Are Together

10/10
Author: horriblywrong from United Kingdom
14 May 2007

I used to volunteer at Agape orphanage and this is a great and honest portrayal on life for these kids, with Zodwa. It is so good to see honest film making and not a generic copy of what the people will be more affected by. Myself and a lot of other people I know that worked at Agape were very scared about the outcome of this documentary, whether It would simply be used as a PR tool, or whether It would show the sadness and the joy in these children, the fears and the courage, the weakness and the strength. Whether It would Really show what these kids are like ?????

But all my fears were put to rest !! I feel privileged to know these children that have been through so much. And I strongly recommend that you watch this movie - As its the most honest thing I have ever seen. Sometimes hard to watch - but unbelievably inspiring !! But as Ghandi once said "dont expect the world to change...simply BE the change you want to see in the world!"

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful--don't miss it

10/10
Author: Weezzie from St. Louis, US
7 March 2007

What a wonderful group of kids. They face heartbreaking tragedy and loss and dashed hopes, but all the while they are held up by their love for each other and God's love ("Agape," the name of the orphanage, is the ancient Greek word for it) and by their own beautiful singing, which soars throughout the movie up until the fairy-tale ending. I saw it this weekend at the True/False film festival in Columbia, Missouri, and I cried through the entire film. There was one point at which I almost started sobbing. Here's hoping this movie will receive enough press and popularity to attain a wide release and more people will be blessed with it as I was.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Songs from the heart - inhale deeply at the magic of existence

8/10
Author: Chris_Docker from United Kingdom
16 August 2007

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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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Moving and Powerful Piece

7/10
Author: Chrisgb-91 from United Kingdom
10 April 2008

The documentary has everything you want from a film which depicts and fantastically displays the culture of another collection of people from the globe. This collection being an orphanage in South Africa named 'Agape' in which children who have lost their parents go to stay and are looked after.

The documentary follows the espionage as their truly mesmerising and powerful singing leads them into a whole new world which can open up doors for themselves back home and for many future South African's around their area. It also focuses on a large family who have lost their parents in which there is now a divide (The elder family members staying at the family home and the younger members staying at Agape because of the lack of finance to take care of them). The scenes where the family are together and participating in family banter and activities is really nice to watch...real people...living real lives but with many more obstructions and difficulties in their lives than many of us are fortunate not to experience. The affection and warmth and love within the family is just simply lovely to watch and is captured so well by the film. It also follows a plot in which the Agape espionage is trying to raise money for more funds to expand etc. and after a trip to England was cancelled plus other factors make it extremely hard for them to follow their dream. Will they reach it? If you haven't seen it then watch and find out.

The music and singing seen in the documentary again is captured brilliantly...really showing and emphasising to the audience just how important music is to these children and their culture. It helps them in every aspect of life and you really do understand and appreciate how the music and singing has had a massive impact on their lives.

The film also covers more harrowing subjects such as the effect of HIV on the family. Sifiso the big brother of the family being diagnosed which leads obviously to some really emotional scenes of pain and sorrow and hits you hard as to the fact that HIV is at large in these areas and the emotional challenges it unfortunately sets upon the family. Normally all we see about HIV is statistics and figures but this film helps us connect with the people, connect with the family during their time of bereavement and really get across the emotional and painful side to HIV rather than numbers.

It follows a truly great story with harsh realities of life a massive part and also involving so many wonderful kids who have some great personalities and great voices who have a dream to make their lives better and many more generations to come better by doing what they do best...sing. Emotional, touching, funny, hard-hitting, family, lovely...a great piece from the upcoming filmmaker Paul Taylor. Great documentary following a great story.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Extraordinary depiction of a culture, a children's choir, and a family.

10/10
Author: richardjweiss from United States
11 October 2007

This remarkable documentary weaves a variety of poignant stories about orphans of the African AIDS epidemic, the uplifting tale of a marvelous children's choir, and the quiet heroism of a family of ten siblings that have lost their parents. It shifts focus from the microcosmic look at a poor black South African family, to a medium range examination of an orphanage that does what it can in its own limited way, to a wide-angled view of the world's perception of the same subject. While not free of sobering truths regarding the epidemic in Africa, it offers some joyous insights into the daily lives of some of its victims, and some wise observations of the role of music in their lives. It's one of those rare experiences that make you happy you're crying, and at the same time make you laugh out loud. I absolutely promise you, you won't be sorry you see this film. Just don't forget the Kleenex.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful, moving and challenging film with great subjects and editing

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
10 August 2008

Slindile is a twelve year old orphan living with some of her brothers and sisters in the Agape orphanage in South Africa. The other siblings still live in the family home but had to give up the younger ones when their parents died and they did not have the money to feed all of the children and look after them. She now lives at the orphanage along with many other children who have lost, or been abandoned by their parents. Over several years this film follows the lives of those in the orphanage, with particular focus on Slindile, as they live their lives and also prepare for a trip to England to perform in order to raise money for Agape.

I heard about this film on Shooting People and was pleased to see it get such publicity and a decent slot on terrestrial television recently. Watching it myself I must admit that the cynical bitter part of me (that'll be all the bits between the soles of my feet and my thinning hair) was prepared for the usual "African" fare of happy singing children, bright colours, bare feet and middle-class guilt. Forgive me this but on paper this is just what the film is but even those with hardest hearts will have to concede that the film is way more than just the clichés but is actually a challenging, uplifting and surprisingly hopeful film.

With any documentary, the real work comes in getting the right subjects – particularly when you are making a film focused on a small group to illustrate a bigger story. Films can fall over by picking the wrong group or by focusing on the wrong people in a group, some of it is in the selection and maybe it can come in the edit if you have enough footage. Director Taylor doesn't really have this problem as he already knew his subjects from his time volunteering in a break from film school. He has already chosen his subjects and for him this is half the battle. That his subjects allow him to capture tragedy and loss as much as hope and happiness is down to them but it is all captured and brought together really well in the edit. The film wisely doesn't dwell on the issue of AIDS but rather just lets us see, through Slindile and her family, how it impacts just one family – the extrapolation of that it leaves to us to do from what we already know of the situation and the basic stats it provides at the end.

It is compelling in both the sadness of it all but also the endless spirit of hope and survival that is maintained through everything. If I have a bad day at work I am useless in the evening, think how great about myself I felt watching this! Slindile is a great focal point because she is a beautiful girl but also one of those children who has their thoughts written on their face, the infectious smile is just another reason to love her. We see all this through her and she is a massive part in hooking the viewer into the reality of the situation – this film is not another "black people dying somewhere else" reports that we see so often on the news that it is practically just accepted as the way things are. The rest of the kids are great too but again it is not just about "cute kids" (although Mbali is undoubtedly the cutest child ever) but also the adults, as the film gives time to the elder siblings whose lot is not much better but whose spirits are just as strong.

It is an impressive film from Taylor and really well pulled together by editor Hirakubo into an effective and engaging piece that gets the mix of emotions just right. Uplifting and challenging in equal measure – if you are not asking what you can do to help or where you can donate by the end of the film then there is genuinely something wrong with you. Simply put - a beautiful and moving film. www.wearetogether.org.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Don't miss it!

10/10
Author: hamomili from United Kingdom
7 March 2008

I rated this documentary with a 10 out of 10, because the kids in it, their lives, the tragedies they go through and the way they just fight it all back with a song and a smile is so shocking for all of us people that our life problems revolve around jobs, debts, holidays etc.

Watching this I felt that if I was faced with the problems these kids encounter in their lives (no parents, AIDS killing my relatives and the people that I love, poverty) I would definitely break. But their innocence and strength is amazing! Plus, the songs you will hear in 'We are together' are amazing, the kids' voices are amazing and if you watch the movie or buy their CD you help them with their Agape kids' home.

I was moved and amazed by this and it gave me another perception of life, which I knew it existed, but never had such a striking reference for it.

Highly recommended!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The best documentary I've seen in years, really.

10/10
Author: sammyspieler from USA
9 October 2007

WE ARE TOGETHER has everything you could want in a film. Most films say they'll make you laugh and cry and you think it's a cliché (because 9 times out of 10 it is). WE ARE TOGETHER really will do all that, and more. It's sad, funny, brave, the music is extraordinary and it's ultimately uplifting, inspiring and incredibly well crafted. Above all, the film was clearly made with a great deal of love and the kids in the movie as well as the filmmakers should be proud of their work. I saw it at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it won a bunch of awards but I believe it's being released early next year. Cant wait to go see it again and take all my friends! I'm backing this horse for the Oscars - if that Academy has any sense that it.

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A must have

10/10
Author: ianfield2002
17 July 2010

If there is one Documentary that everyone should have, let it be this one. I have seen this documentary several times on HBO and I was moved to tears. It is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. You can't help it to feel with those kids in Agape and it makes you angry because you can't do nothing about it. AIDS is no longer a big topic in our modern society, but in Africa it is a sad part of life. And the film brings this across in a very powerful and heart breaking way. Great job to the director!!! If you want to see it, buy the DVD and the CD with the wonderful songs of the children. This way you will also support them because the money of the sales go to the kids in Agape. A must see!!!!!!!

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A most touching film everyone should watch

10/10
Author: mamabear110 from United States
16 July 2009

I view this documentary on HBO this past week and thought it excellent. So much so that I have bought not only the DVD but the CD as well. I was particularly moved by this film because I am on the Board of Directors of a grassroots organization called Our Journey, Inc. that works in the same South African province where Agape is located. In fact, our founder/directors has visited Agape.

The only thing missing from the film was the fact that the children in the orphanage are the lucky ones!!! Our organization works to provide basic needs of children without any family or community support. Some children as young as seven years of age are the head of the household. If there is an adult it is usually a grandmother (called gogos) who is looking after grandchildren and great grandchildren because the young adults have died of AIDS.

Please tell everyone you know about this film. The world needs to know about them and their great needs.

Teddie Martin, Board of Directors our journey inc.org

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