Rating: (2 out of 5) Sunday, 10/18/2009, 11:00 AM Feature presentation, $10 at Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts
SOMETIMES TOO much is simply too much. When done well, a documentary can bring new insights. It can cause someone to reconsider their preconceived notions. Expand the means by which they view and understand the world. It can instigate discussion, inspire new ideas, and introduce communities to one another and to themselves.
Unfortunately, director Tim Daniels’ Standing-N-Truth: Breaking the Silence is too broad and too weighted down to meet that challenge. Audience members are pulled in too many directions at once and asked to give equal attention to voices that, quite frankly, don’t always deserve the same kind of respect.
Daniels has brought together a broad collection of individuals including Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Bishop Yvette A. Flunder, the Black AIDS Institute’s Phill Wilson and (for no readily apparent reason) actress Kym Whitley, to speak from all corners of the African-American community about sexual identity, sexual practices, sex education, AIDS, HIV infection and, perhaps most successfully, the grave danger of silence.
It’s not that any single aspect of this film is unsuccessful and some elements leap from the screen and beg for more attention. Audience members will be shaken to their core by the sight and earth shaking sounds of Sheryl Lee Ralph’s speech/performance at a world AIDS conference.
They will remember Ebony Lane, a transgender MTF, who speaks eloquently and frankly about the need for cohesion and community within the community.
And they will remember director Timothy Daniels who tells his own story with care and a complete absence of ego.
But Breaking the Silence is simply too massive and cluttered to speak with a clear narrative voice. We are asked to carry too much along on an already complicated journey.
There are such lovely bones here. Such incredible ideas and voices. One hopes that they will soon be given the space they need to flourish, gain authority and, most critically, to shout with the same skill and passion as the incredible Ms. Ralph.
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