Monday, December 08, 2008

[Asian Festival of 1st Films] Wade in the Water

This is a small documentary where the filmmaker, in being a part of a choir, decided to make a documentary about the group, and along the way, captured the dynamics of the individual members within the group on its way to a national singing competition.

It tells of the tale of the community gospel choir known as South of the River, and goes behind the scenes at their preparation for the competition. We get introduced to only some of the individuals and it became more of a talking heads styled documentary and sadly without much in depth discussion, save for the focus on Debi the founder, and her battle with cancer. It tried to link her battle and recovery with the healing power of song, but somehow they didn't come through well.

But the real pity here was that the audience was primed for some showdown of sorts at the grand event, which turned out not to be featured at all because the camera was not allowed inside the performing hall. So for all the rehearsals where we do get to see the choir group in action, that's about as far as you can see and hear them, without that finale with oomph! Wonderful toe-tapping music though, but alas no chance to watch them possibly at their very best.

Director Linette Etheredge was present to share some of the details about the filmmaking process, that it took almost 12 months to log and transcribe the tapes, after covering some 5 weeks of rehearsals and performances. She mentioned that they were up against some serious competition, and were quite surprised that they came in third, out of 45 competitive groups. And to give us an idea of how "competitive" they were, she said that almost everyone in her group smokes! So they were really amazed at how far they managed to go in the contest, given that they just wanted to give their best, and not succumb to any undue pressure at winning anything.

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