We Are One

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
We Are One Movie Poster Image
Docu helps activists gain world attention; violence.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 86 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Many dedicated people around the world are trying to solve difficult social problems. "It's better to live in freedom… than to be oppressed." "True artists are healers."

Positive Role Models & Representations

The featured activists are working to raise awareness about such ills as domestic violence, feeding the poor, racism, and misogyny.

Violence

Prejudice against various groups is discussed. Police shooting is mentioned, as well as a motorcycle accident. Domestic violence against women is described as usual in Brazil. A video of a man beating his wife in an elevator there is shown. We learn he later threw her off a building, then retrieved the body and cleaned the blood off the elevator walls. A woman describes being beaten for hours by her husband because she didn't make him lunch, while her mother-in-law stood by watching. A Muslim woman from Sudan plays back a video she took of an American man in Arizona spewing hate at her for being a Muslim. She describes seeing family members hurt in Sudan, "blood pouring out of somebody."

Sex
Language

"F--k" is seen on graffiti. "S--t," "screw," "bitch," and "crap."  "Hell" is heard in song lyrics.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that We Are One is a French documentary (with English subtitles) focusing on several international activists, each trying to raise awareness about social problems in their own ways. The director puts them in a music video to help publicize their work and introduces them to fundraisers in support of their issues. The social ills highlighted include the plight of battered women in Brazil, homeless refugees in Paris, a marginalized albino community in Mali, climate change, genocide in Sudan, and racism and sexism in the United States and France. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "screw," "bitch," and "crap." "Hell" is heard in song lyrics. Domestic violence is described and shown. A Muslim woman from Sudan plays back a video she took of an American man in Arizona spewing hate at her for being a Muslim. 

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What's the story?

WE ARE ONE begins with sobering statistics, that around 70 million people around the world have been displaced by war, conflict, and persecution. Then it jumps to melting ice caps, then mentions the problem of groups advocating for the dominance of the white race.  It's also a movie about a movie, about a guy trying to make a music video about an inspiring group of multinational musicians who have a song about solidarity (called "Solidarite"). He wants the song to celebrate the work of several activists he admires. Mara, a Parisian from the projects who was wrongly imprisoned, has organized people in his community to create a food bank for homeless refugees. Panmela is a battered Brazilian woman who now holds graffiti-painting workshops for women to help them speak out against violence.  A marginalized albino community in Mali is also represented by Broulaye, as are genocide in Sudan by a woman named Afaq, and racism and sexism in the United States and France. Tamara, a French woman of Chinese descent, reports that anti-Asian prejudice is rife in France and that Asians, believed to be wealthy and carrying around cash, are frequent targets of violence. The movie tells us that "true artists are healers," as it features Lamomali, a group of musicians who support the solidarity it will require to rid the world of many social problems.   

Is it any good?

This is an ambitious, big-hearted but disjointed attempt to help, but it never decides what it is about. French director Stephane de Freitas is filled with good intentions as he turns the spotlight on a number of pressing issues affecting populations around the world. He's great at finding inspiring people to represent those issues, and his efforts to promote their causes seem genuine.

But We Are One falters as he tries to do too much. Initially, he structures the movie as a countdown to a music video that will feature "Solidarite" by the musical group Lamomali, but that is shot halfway through, leaving us puzzled as to what the rest of the movie will be about.  De Freitas brings all of his far-flung activists to Paris for meetings with fundraisers and facilitators, so you really can't knock him for making this effort to make the world a better place. All the more reason to wish that We Are One was a better, more watchable movie instead of the muddled, good-hearted mess that it is.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the terrible conditions so many people around the world live in. Of the issues highlighted in We Are One, which would you most like to help with? Why?

  • A woman in Brazil works to empower battered women by teaching them to paint murals about women's issues. How do you think that helps women?

  • What are some ways people can help to fight social problems in our own communities?

Movie details

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