Movie Review: Imba Means Sing

The experiences of members of the African Children’s Choir are chronicled in this documentary, as told through the words of the children themselves.
Directed by Danielle Bernstein.

I love watching documentaries, but few have affected me on such a personal level as Imba Means Sing, a film that tells the stories of the members of the African Children’s Choir as they travel around North America. Rarely has a film managed to break my heart and then put it back together again, with a story so uplifting and hopeful, it will stay with you long after the credits roll.

The African Children’s Choir is a Grammy-nominated group made up of young children from impoverished African countries. Children chosen for the choir tour the United States, Canada, and Britain for a time, and the money raised during that tour pays for their tuition at a special academy for tour members, which gives them an opportunity at a better education and a better life.

Imba Means Sing focuses on three of the choir’s members as they tour North America. The children, Moses, Angel, and Nina, are all from Uganda, and the film not only chronicles their experiences in America, it also gives us a look at their lives back home in the Ugandan slums. In heart-wrenching detail, we see what their life would be without the choir, which promises nothing but poverty and a hopeless future. 

Telling their story could easily have been emotionally exploitative, but instead, director Danielle Bernstein allows the children the chance to tell their story earnestly, in a manner that focuses on their hope for the future. It is both painful to comprehend their existence and yet uplifting to see them voice their determination to give their family a better life.

During the course of the film, we watch the young members of the choir as they marvel at things like clean running water they can access indoors, and rather than hear them dwell on their miserable upbringing, the children choose to voice hope for the future. It is a humbling viewing experience, with the human drama interlaced with their musical performances at just the right times, so the film keeps a positive tone. We also get to hear Nina voice her dream of becoming Uganda’s first female President, and Moses’ dream of becoming a pilot is answered in an unexpected way. 

Director of Photography Jason Maris captures the film in a beautiful, unassuming manner. It is so difficult for documentaries to capture key emotional moments without being too intrusive, but you never feel that here, and Maris' efforts on this film should be noted. 

Without providing too many spoilers, the film ends with the children returning to Africa and starting a new life at the academy. What could have been a downer of an ending is instead the most uplifting part of the picture, as we watch the children voice their dreams for the future, in a scene which will bring tears to your eyes for all the right reasons. 

Few films will restore your faith in humanity quite like Imba Means Sing. The emotional impact sneaks up on you, and director Bernstein tells the story almost effortlessly, and without pulling any punches. It is a celebration of the human spirit the camera rarely catches. Do not miss this experience. And do bring Kleenex.

Imba Means Sing will be released digitally December 4, 2015. 100% of the filmmaker profits will be donated to help educate more children in Africa through the work of the African Children’s Choir. It will be available through digital retailers including Amazon, iTunes, and You can visit the official movie website for more information,

Victor Medina is a freelance writer based in Dallas. He is the editor of several websites, and his writing credits include The Dallas Morning News, Yahoo News, and He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. You can follow him on his blog, or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at

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