Monday, 7 May 2007

BETWEEN SORROW AND JOY: "We Are Together" wins Tribeca's Audience Award

Between sorrow an joy, We Are Together (Thina Simunye) by british director Paul Taylor goes right to one's heart...and wins the 2007 Cadillac Award at Tribeca Film Festival. Paul Taylor and producer Teddy Leifer will dedicate the $25,000 cash prize to school fees for the Agape children through their RISE Foundation.

Filmed over three years by Paul Taylor and his crew, We Are Together (Thina Simunye) tells the story of a very special choir, that of the Agape Orphanage in KwaZulu Natal, a home for children, many of whom have lost their parents to AIDS. The film is a heartfelt story about sorrow, joy and the strength of the human spirit, or as the director puts it: also sums up this duality between sorrow and joy, and the capacity of the human spirit to deal with suffering with humor, dignity and strength...

"Singing makes me think of my home because that was where I learnt to sing," states Slindile Moya – a young 12 year old girl in South Africa. She lives at the Agape Orphanage and together with the other children from the orphanage form a choir which becomes their greatest source of comfort and hope. Meanwhile Slindile makes regular visits to her former home, where her parents taught her to sing as a child, and where her brother Sifiso is now unwell. It's unclear what is wrong with him, but Slindile's worst fears are confirmed by the hospice. He has HIV. Sifiso must face the inevitable, but the family still has the strength to sing. Back at the orphanage, despite the hardship the children have been through, they too continue to sing, which takes them on a journey they could only dream of. For children like Slindile and her friends at Agape, life has not been easy, but their voices continue to ring loud and clear. As they come to terms with a series of painful setbacks, including the loss of loved ones to AIDS, their spirit stays strong and their singing takes them to places they have never been before.

Filmmaker Paul Taylor spent three months in KwaZulu Natal (South Africa) in 2003 volunteering at the Agape Orphanage. He was profoundly affected by his experiences there, the children’s personalities and, in particular, their beautiful singing. He returned with Teddy Leifer (producer) and Pauline von Moltke (associate producer) to make a film and help facilitate the production of the CD that would eventually bring the children to the attention of the world. We Are Together (Thina Simunye) has been more than three years in the making and has involved editors Masahiro Hirakubo (Eragon, Trainspotting, The Beach, A Life Less Ordinary) and composer Dario Marianelli (Pride & Prejudice, Shooting Dogs, V for Vendetta).

We Are Together had its world premiere at the 2006 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) where it won two prizes: First Appearance Award and the prestigious Audience Award, receiving the highest score in the festival’s history. It has now played in four festivals and won five awards.
Worldwide theatrical rights for the film are currently available and profits from the documentary will be donated to benefit The Agape Orphanage and other HIV/AIDS projects.

We Are Together is directed by Paul Taylor and written by Slindile Moya and Paul Taylor. It is produced by Teddy Leifer and Paul Taylor, with Annie Roney and Pauline Von Moltke as associate producers and Leigh Blake, Sheila Nevins and Jess Search executive producers. The film is a Rise Films Production in association with The Channel 4 British Documentary Film Foundation and HBO Documentary Films.

related links: keep a child alive - tribeca film festival - help the Agape Orphanage children

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