This blog post was written by Moze Mossanen, Director, “Unsung”
Show choir: I had not heard the term until I was asked to work on this film. I knew about the hit TV show Glee, of course, but I had little sense that these marvels of high school song-and-dance had a world all their own outside of Hollywood. In fact, I was impressed to learn that each April, over a dozen schools from across Canada come to Toronto to compete in the Show Choir Canada National Championships. A video of the 2012 competition revealed a world of such colour, youthful energy and great drama that I was virtually thunderstruck. How had I missed this? There was no question that there was a story here; one that would also make a wonderful documentary about the real world of glee and the captivating people who are a vital part of it.
Given the large playing field, we narrowed down the focus of the documentary to two schools – Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts and the Etobicoke School of the Arts. The two schools have been the top competitors in the first two years of the competition with a tremendous level of performing skill. The documentary would follow each school through weeks of rehearsals right up to the big day where they would compete against one another and the other schools from across Canada. Yes, there would be rehearsal dramas and all the tension building right up to the point where the winner is announced; I looked forward to documenting it all. However, the most dramatic aspect of the documentary had completely escaped me until I started shooting – the students themselves. I was completely gobsmacked by not only their personal stories but also the manner in which music and performance gives these young individuals a means to transform their lives in positive ways. I witnessed how art can build friendships, create healthy communities, and transcend all that is dark and threatening. I had previously thought – naively so – that only professional art could offer these possibilities. Who knew that I could also find it in the classrooms of a local high school?
I believe in the power and value of show choirs. They’re great places for young people to find themselves and to recognize the importance of hard work in creating successful lives. They’re also great places to realize that the success of any group or community is not rooted in the ability of one person but the combined forces and talents of all who are involved. Moreover, they’re an important place to discover the transcendental power of art. And for adults like me, they are a great way to reclaim something incredibly valuable that may have been lost somewhere along the way.
“Unsung” coming to TVO this fall.