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We Are One - Netflix Documentary Review



We Are One (On Est Ensemble) is a documentary that encircles the global human experience of helping others through the power of music. Director Stéphane de Freitas uses the motif of togetherness to make a music video for the song Solidarité. With this creation of music, sandwiched by news footage and personal stories from around the world, a beautiful sense of togetherness is created.

The film is contextualised by a world in crisis. It explores different disasters that humans consistently encounter, such as austerity and inequality. Both natural and social challenges ultimately call for global solidarity and de Freitas relies on the power of music in the hope of inspiring this movement. The result is a ninety-minute piece awash with colour and culture, blending languages and experiences to create something enjoyable from social change.

What makes this Netflix documentary fascinating is that it is a perspective that the UK has not seen before. This seemingly short ninety-minute documentary takes its audience on a trip around the world to address issues of poverty, violence, feminism and racism to name a few. These issues are explored from the inside-out, rather than the outside-in and it is this introspective look that is inspiring. The audience gets to see real people and the conversations that they are having as though the camera is not even there without being intrusive.

First, we are invited to partake in ‘The Big Challenge’ in France, where a community comes together to aid refugees despite their own struggles. Then we travel to Brazil, where we learn about the Maria de Pehna Act and how women are trying to break free from a traditionally toxic culture of domestic abuse. Women are learning more about their rights, alongside women who still fear the consequences of asking for their freedom. It is organisations like these that you hope has managed to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, most-likely needing greater help now more than ever because of it.

Discrimination is the documentary’s focal point, with organisations such as AMPA in Mali being able to further raise awareness through this documentary. This organisation draws attention to the fact that people with albinism are still being killed due to old beliefs and parents are still abandoning their albino children. Those within the organisation speak in the film about wanting to create change through a movement and this extends throughout the rest of the documentary. The point is that once a movement gains momentum, those who do not participate are ridiculed and that is such a great concept that is not explored enough properly in film.

Activist Afaq too created her own movement when she was told that she did not belong at her university in the US after experiencing racism and Islamophobia. She used her experience to attest to the fact that often, marginalised people are pushed out of these types of institutions because those in charge do not want to hear the truth. Extending from Afaq’s story, Anti-Asian racism in France is discussed too, as if to bring this French-led documentary back home. The photographs and videos shown of these stories serve to state that the truth cannot be denied any longer in an age of contemporary film. This documentary reminds viewers that nowhere is innocent of race discrimination. This is important for UK viewers to remember too. The power of film has not only evolved socially, but also politically. Everyone can inspire a movement just by picking up a phone or a camera and pressing record.

The emotive blend of language and culture in We Are One inspires that desiring change is hopeful. It reminds its audience that there is always room to grow and develop individual and collective attitudes, highlighting a shared humanity. Portrayed is a truly human display of unity amongst seemingly differing projects and also stresses the importance of this. The issues that there are fighting for are different, but their goals are the same; to bring communities together and heal those around them. We Are One is able to sustain participants and viewers through shared values, but to also go beyond the music and inspire action.

Being aware versus actually acting is crucial to the argument of this documentary. The organisations and groups of people helping others with limited resources and relying on social media is not only incredibly inspiring, but demonstrates how simple it is for the ordinary person to give a helping hand. That is true power.

We Are One is available on Netflix now.


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