We Are Together
Whether the tragedy is personal or universal, filmmaker Paul Taylor manages to extract an upbeat film out of harrowing and difficult lives in this moving documentary. Concentrating on the Agape Orphanage in South Africa, Taylor zeroes in particularly on one family, the Mayos, whose son is too rapidly dying of Aids. Unable to afford the drugs that would help keep him alive, the family are literally in the hands of the gods. At the same time the children at the orphanage, who have formed a choir, hope to make a CD and visit London to raise money for the institution. However, they can’t gather enough funds for the trip London, and the orphanage burns down due to an electrical fault (Taylor is, however, not around for this event).
Whether the film finally owes more to fictional ploys over observational dictates is a moot point, and it isn’t surprising that the film was put together jointly by fiction and documentary editors, as though Taylor wanted to get the balance right between the dramatic and the factual. Yet, it is the undeniably factual that shows the film at its ickiest: the kids get to perform on stage with Paul Simon and Alicia Keys in a moment that maybe plays too readily into the hands of star pulling power. It’s when we know an orphanage can survive with the aid of the celebrity magic wand that we might ask for less charity and more politics. Still, Taylor’s film is an impressively achieved, heartfelt work.
GFT, Glasgow, Sat 15–Mon 17 Mar; Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 21 Mar.