Melissa Martinez, Anna Simpson, Kerry Washington, The Jackie Robinson Steppers Marching Band
Jim McKay, Paul Mezey, Diana Williams, Alexa Fogel, Joe Infantolino, Caroline Kaplan, Jonathan Sehring, Michael Stipe, Jim Denault, Alex Hall
In Jim McKay's second film to be in competition at Sundance (Girls Town cowon the Filmmakers Trophy in 1996), he delves back into the realm of teenage girls facing the challenges of growing up in a world filled with uncertainty, risk, and ultimately hope.
Our Song follows Lahina, Maria, Joyceln, best friends and members of their school's marching band, through the hot August streets of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, providing an expertly realized glimpse of teenage, inner-city life. During these closing weeks of summer, the small moments and dramas that mean nothing and everything to a young girl navigating her way into adulthood start to accumulate. And the girls and their friendships change forever.
McKay's keen knowledge of these characters' worlds and lives and his ability to translate them to film are remarkable. He shies away from dramatic plot devices and traditional structure, instead unspooling very real people dealing with very real events. He locks us into the phenomenal surfaces of life, surfing on a wave of shifting sensory experience: anxiously carefully recording unanalyzed body movements, vocal tones, gestures, and facial expressions, all exquisitely revealed by the young actors. The creativity of these characters is absolutely inseparable from the unending obstacles they must overcome and the misunderstandings they face. Their susceptibility to fears about what the future holds is inextricably intertwined with their capacity for inventive responses. Their emotional vulnerability and fragility are precisely what make them so gloriously brave, sensitive, and expressive.