Thursday, June 9, 2011
Sydney Film Festival Day 2: Sing Your Song
Sing Your Song commences with a series of quickly flashing jarring images of suffering, protests and confrontation, both a wake-up call and a glimpse of what is to come.
The film is essentially a personal account of Henry Belafonte's lifelong activism as he pursues freedom and equality. The personal costs of this, the break-down of two marriages, are treated matter-of-factly and with dignity. His children speak lovingly and respectfully of his work.
The film chronicles his post-war personal stands against segregation, his work in the freedom movement of the sixties, his passion and involvement in Africa and Haiti. Interviews with other celebrities and fellow activists are touching and detailed.
The music is there but it's secondary to his true purpose!
The strength, determination and single-mindedness are clearly evident and inspirational. At 80, when he is clearly entitled to put his feet up, he continues to work running workshops for the elders and then the young addressing the growing incarceration problem in the U.S.
Much of the films sequences are topped and tailed by Monologues by Belafonte talking direct to camera ( an implied but not heard interviewer), indulgent- probably but at his age with his history entirely forgivable.
Highlights include the trip to Mississippi with Sidney Portier to deliver $60000 cash during the Freedom Summer, his ongoing relationship with Nelson Mandela, and footage of an 80's trip to Ethiopia coupled with current interviews of their companions ( watch for the doctor that travelled with them - still moved to tears over 20 years later).
A long film but a moving one showing Belafonte's unwillingness to put his feet up when there is still work to be done!