ALL THE WAY THROUGH EVENING. Mimi Sterne Wolfe. Directed by Rohan Spong.68 minutes.Rated M (frequent coarse language and mature themes).
A musical documentary.
Response to this film will depend on the age of the audience. The reason for this is that it takes us back to the 1980s-1990s and the era of HIV AIDS. And it does this through music.
Documentary maker, Rohan Spong, came across the website of Mimi Sterne Wolfe, a now elderly pianist and campaigner for human rights in New York City. She had been friendly with a musician who died from HIV AIDS in the early 1990s and decided that she would stage a memorial concert every year in his memory. She has done it for twenty years. Spong met Mimi and they became very good friends. She invited him to film her at home, at rehearsals and at the 2010 concert, which he did.
However, he realised that he did not know very much, being too young, about the impact of the mysterious virus in the 1980s and the number of deaths, especially of gay men. Mimi introduced him to a lyricist, Perry, whom he interviews at length about his friends who had died and about their music. Several of them were composers. Mimi also contacts two singers who have participated in the concerts for some years.
So, the film, very genial because of Mimi’s personality and zest, works on several levels. It is a fine tribute to Mimi and her loyalties and friendships. And she is a character! The film is also a concert of quite a number of songs, classical in their style rather than popular or pop. Some of them have music to poems of Emily Dickenson and Walter de la Mare as well as a tribute to Walt Whitman and a song from an unfinished opera, Titanic. Music lovers will find the songs worth their while.
And the film works as a reminder for those who remember what the 1980s, especially in the New York City arts circles, were like with the puzzle and sadness of HIV AIDS. For younger audiences, it may open up an era they may be unfamiliar with and be very surprised at what happened. The memories, images, verbal tributes and the music are sometimes quite moving.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Various release dates 2012.