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Parents' Guide to

Imba Means Sing

By Renee Longstreet, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Vibrant, uplifting docu about African children's choir.

Movie NR 2015 75 minutes
Imba Means Sing Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 10+

Lots of religious content

Music For Life and the African Children’s Choir are Christian organizations and there is quite a bit of screen time in this film given to the children praying to Jesus and talking about performing for God. If you’re Christian you may welcome this as supportive of your child’s enrichment. For everyone else, just thought you’d like to know. Also, the film is a little bit boring, and there is not any time spent sharing the actual outcomes of these choir tours. Where does the money go? How did these children ultimately benefit? The movie just ends when they go back to Uganda and I found that unsettling. It left me with a lot of questions.
1 person found this helpful.
age 4+

Common sense let me down this time

I watched Imba Means Sing with my kids expecting them to come to some understanding of what it means to be a child in Uganda. I hoped there would be a story or plot to keep my kids interested. Something about kids overcoming diversity through a love of music perhaps? But that isn't what this movie is about. Here were some of the questions my family had while we watched. . . About 10 minutes in my 9 year-old asked: Why is it called the African Children's Choir? This is an all Ugandan children's choir and yet they are billed and tour as the "African" children's choir? Good point kid! Africa is a continent with 54 countries of which Uganda is only one. For some reason in the US we often refer to people as African instead of their actual nationality. Why is that? Why does this movie about Ugandan children reinforce that idea? . . Then both my kids wanted to know why Ugandan children had to pay to go to school, why wasn't school free in Uganda? That's an excellent question... but the movie never even bothered to answer it! It just made it seem like it was normal for children in Uganda to not be able to afford school. So our family resorted to Google to learn the answer. It turns out that contrary to what this documentary would have you believe, school in Uganda IS FREE!!!?? What is not free is the supplies and books and that is why kids drop out. So just like here in the US, education is considered a right. And there are kids in Uganda who can not only afford to go to school, they go to fancy private schools, just like here in the US. . . Watching this movie, my kids started to feel like everything in Uganda was poverty and sadness. I wondered if that was true, so we resorted to Google yet again and found out that Uganda is a country with amazing waterfalls, stunning mountains and deep cultural traditions. And that there are in fact wealthy Ugandans who send their kids to private schools just like here in the United States. What does the movie have to gain by selling the idea that all children in Uganda are poor and unhappy? That everything in the United States is better? . . And then we just got bored. There was no story here. Just the same things over and over. Ultimately we turned it off and watched Mad Hot Ballroom instead, which managed to keep my 9 and 5 year-old riveted. As far as we are concerned this movie makes some very uncomfortable assumptions about how American citizens should view people from Uganda and Africa in general that provoked some good questions but failed to answer them. And then it just was a poorly constructed story that failed to engage our interest.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (6 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Always engaging, with close-ups of kids who make the heart soar, this joyful film doesn't ignore the poverty from which these young "artists" come but eases that with a promise for the future. These are brave children, willing to leave their homes and families for a long period of time, willing to leave them again to attend a boarding school, all in the hopes of lifting themselves and their families from the numbing poverty and deprivation that is the only world they know. The kids are always aware of their need to perform well so they can raise money for their educations. Director Bernstein focuses on the positive; never have such broad smiles been so constant. Younger audiences will appreciate the happy adventure and identify with the kids as they venture into the West. Older kids and grown-ups will respond to that, too, but they'll also recognize the underlying sadness of families separated and the heavy responsibilities placed on very young shoulders. Imba Means Sing is an ideal film for families to watch together.

Movie Details

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