Sing Your Song and Other Notable Documentaries

Movie Review, Movies

I was on the Notable Videos for Adults committee through the Video Round Table of the American Library Association for four years. This was my first year off the committee, so it was strange not being part of the process of selecting the list. Although, it was also a relief to not have to watch somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 documentaries before the deadline.

This year’s list has been announced and includes the following:

  • Benda Bilili! [look beyond appearances]
  • Girl Model
  • How Does It Feel
  • Inocente
  • Into Eternity
  • The Light in Her Eyes
  • The Loving Story
  • Pink Ribbons, Inc.
  • The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
  • Scenes of a Crime
  • Semper Fi: Always Faithful
  • Sing Your Song
  • You’ve Been Trumped
  • We Were Here: The AIDS Years in San Francisco
  • Where Soldiers Come From

You can get more information about the films from the official press release.

I had seen only one of these, Into Eternity, which I reviewed for Educational Media Reviews Online. It is a fascinating film and I’m thrilled to see it made the list.

One of my goals this year is to watch more contemporary films, so I will make an effort to see most of these. Unfortunately, some documentaries are marketed for the educational market and do not always have a home licensed version, so it can be difficult to get your hands on them.

While at the ALA conference in Seattle, I crashed the Notables proceedings for part of the morning (it goes on ALL day). While I was there, one of the films they discussed was Sing Your Song, a documentary about Harry Belafonte. I was intrigued by their discussion because I never realized how politically active he was. My interest piqued, I put Sing Your Song high on my list to watch and it didn’t disappoint.

I knew a little about Belafonte as a singer and actor and had some sense that he was an activist but knew no details about that part of his life. Sing Your Song, directed by Susanne Rostock, takes a chronological look at Belafonte’s life and expertly connects his early work as an entertainer to his later activism. Much of the music he performed and many of the acting roles he chose reflected his social and political interests. The film interviews Belafonte, members of his family and many celebrities. It also features plenty of fascinating archival footage.

Sing Your Song is an emotional and compelling watch from start to finish. The film leaves you with the impression that Belafonte is truly one of the Good People of the world. It is one of most moving documentaries I’ve seen and I’ve seen A LOT of documentaries.