Review: African children’s joyful voices propel ‘Imba Means Sing’

Well suited to the holiday season, “Imba Means Sing” is an appropriately spirited documentary portrait of the African Children’s Choir.

Founded in Uganda in 1984 by Ray Barnett amid that country’s civil war, the singing collectives of poverty-stricken children ages 7 to 12 have gone on to considerable international acclaim, earning a 1992 Grammy nomination and appearing on “American Idol” and an Annie Lennox album in the process.

Focusing on the awareness-generating world tour undertaken by Choir 39, director Danielle Bernstein wisely allows the life-changing undertaking to be seen primarily through the eyes of its energetic young performers, especially the group’s star drummer, 8-year-old Moses.


Between their various North American gigs, held primarily in churches and concert halls as fundraisers for their post-tour education, the kids take side trips to the Grand Canyon and other local attractions while weighing in on their ambitious career aspirations.

Bernstein takes a fairly generic approach to the filmmaking; no fancy embellishments are necessary when you’ve got all those sweet voices emanating from joyful young faces.

Filled with humanitarian good cheer — and enough costume changes to rival a Diana Ross concert — “Imba Means Sing” delivers a heartwarming song of hope for the future.


“Imba Means Sing.”

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes.

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood. Also on VOD.