Imba Means Sing is a touching documentary film that draws a striking comparison between the living conditions in Uganda and in The United States. It was confronting to see firsthand the stark disparity in wealth and another thing entirely to imagine the children’s perspective on why their home is so different from what they’ve seen abroad.
The film follows a group of children from The African’s Children Choir, an organization that is an inspiration to the world. This is not an organization that idly or passively offers aid, but rather works hands-on with the children in their program, to ensure that they have a better life filled with greater opportunity and the skills to impact change for others. I think it is especially worth noting that the program returns the children to their homeland after the completion of the program. This encapsulates what the mission of the organization is. It aims to spread change, education, and betterment through the children they serve to the larger African community. I find this model of social impact to be highly successful and admirable.
It was an incredible experience to meet the producer of Imba Means Sing. I was touched that she had personally been volunteering and following the African’s Children Choir for years before she made her film. As a class, we have been talking a lot about the role of the filmmaker and how to manage one’s involvement with the subjects. Is one’s access dependent upon one’s insider or outsider status? I found that her genuine care for the children came through in her portrayal of them. It was clear her personal relationship with them granted her different access than a distant observer trying to capture what Ugandan children are like. Ultimately, Erin Bernhardt’s personal touch made the film a warmhearted portrayal of the children’s past and desired futures.
Both Imba Means Sing and Dan Eldon’s work deeply inspire others to foster their creativity as well as use it to promote social change. Media or art allows everyone to share a message of any kind with the world. Being able to harness this power and use it to concretely make the world a better place is probably the reason behind the growing link between social change and art. Art has always reflected some aspects of the world in which we live. With the rise of technology and affective ways of sharing video and ideas, organizations begin to view media as their outlet to being heard, raising awareness, and ultimately creating social impact.