Documentary Recommendation: Imba Means Sing

What’s behind a smile? Does it contain someone’s joy? Is it a reaction to a hilarious moment? Or is that smile an invitation to someone’s hopes and dreams? As I watched Imba Means Sing (out in theaters December 4th), I was captured by the smiles of the children that make up the African Children’s Choir (ACC). For 70 minutes I was captivated by their poise on stage, their stories, their hopes, and their smiles.

Imba Means Sing follows the members of Choir 39 as they travel for 18 months through Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The choir has a set-list of native African songs (including one that warns listeners of crocodiles) and Gospel songs like, “This Little Light of Mine.” Each choir member serves as an ambassador for their homes and the ACC. They show audience members the tremendous potential of Africa’s future. Since the founding of the ACC in 1984 choir members have received an education and have gone on to become human right attorneys, HIV/AIDS doctors, journalists, nurses, teachers, engineers, and successful entrepreneurs.

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As a viewer, you are brought along to journey with Choir 39, and the experience is witnessed through the film’s three “leads”: Moses, Angel, and Nina. Moses hopes to be a pilot (The scene of him “flying” in a flight simulator is worth the price of admission). Then there’s Angel who hopes to be President someday and Nina dreams of becoming a children’s doctor.

You can’t help but root for these three.

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We are also brought to Uganda to spend time with Moses and his family. It’s a staggering reminder that extreme poverty is still a reality for millions of people, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. We’ve made tremendous progress but there’s still work to do.

Even at such a young age, (Moses is 10 years old at the beginning of the film), he’s keenly aware of the responsibility that he carries. Along with his hopes, he carries the hopes of his loving parents as well. As he shares with us the possibilities an education can open up for him, Moses’ eyes sparkle and he can’t contain his infectious smile.

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While the children are on tour, they are chaperoned, coached, and tutored by former ACC members who they affectionately call “Auntie” and “Uncle.” [Not-so-spoiler-alert] That’s why one of the most touching moments for me was when the children of Choir 39 are reunited with their parents. Watching Moses run into his mother’s arms after 18 months on the road filled me up with my own reunion experiences with family and friends.

This film doesn’t end at this heartfelt reunion but it takes us to the beginning of Moses, Nina, and Angel’s new life as students in their new school.

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Written on the chalkboard is “Yes I can.”

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Moses in his new school.

This film has everything you want: people to cheer for, music, and a happy ending. If you’re a lover of music, you should see this film. If you’re a believer in the power of education, you should see this film. If you want your spirits lifted, you should see this film. Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” If Moses, Nina, and Angel taught me anything it’s if Shakespeare’s right then when we step out onto the world’s stage that we don’t forget to smile.

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Eager to see Imba Means Sing? Find a screening near you by visiting imbafilm.com.

Want to learn more about the African Children’s Choir please visit africanchildrenschoir.com.

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