DVD Review: We Are Family

We Are Family is a documentary film directed by Danny Schechter, which chronicled the recording of the “We Are Family” benefit single and the after-effects of the September 11 tragedy. The single raised money for the We Are Family Foundation Fund, which was established to help the victims of September 11, as well as to raise money for organizations that promote tolerance.

The documentary runs about an hour in length, and covers: the recording of the single (both the New York and Los Angeles recording sessions, as well as additional work with Luther Vandross and Little Steven), interviews with the participants, the press conference to announce the single, what happened on September 11, families looking for their missing loved ones, the hate crimes committed in the wake of September 11, the volunteers who helped clear the site at Ground Zero, the history of the song “We Are Family,” and people on the street trying to sing the song. The documentary is very well done, and combines the seriousness and the light-hearted moments without diluting the message that the film is trying to get across.

Overall, the DVD itself is rather simple, and is packaged with a copy of the “We Are Family” charity single. The main menu of the DVD has the picture that appears on the front cover, and gives you three choices: “The Film,” “Music Video,” and “Outtakes From The Film.” The whole song of “We Are Family” plays in the background as the menu runs.

The music video for “We Are Family” was directed by Spike Lee, and is shot in black and white. The video contains footage of both the New York and Los Angeles recording sessions, as well as Luther Vandross’ solo session, and Nile Rodgers working with Little Steven on the guitar part. While the video may not be anything spectacular, it’s a well-done video for a charity single; it really captures the vibe of the song and the recording sessions.

There are four outtakes included: “Musicians in harmony,” “Athletes in the family,” “Actors take the stage,” and “Making the record.”

“Musicians in harmony” lasts about five minutes; it includes footage from rehearsals, as well as commentary by Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, Jeffrey Gaines, Harry Wayne Casey (from KC and the Sunshine Band), Sophie B. Hawkins, Kenny Lattimore, Chante Moore, and Tony Terry.

“Athletes in the family” runs about two-and-a-half minutes, and includes commentary by Mark Jackson from the New York Knicks, Rod Gilbert from the New York Rangers, John McEnroe, Lisa Leslie from the Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA), and Rebecca Lobo and Teresa Witherspoon from the New York Liberty (WNBA). Nestor Torres playing a flute part in the studio is also included, and some of the audio of the flute plays in the background when some of the athletes speak.

“Actors take to the stage” lasts about three minutes, and includes commentary from Macauley Culkin, David Hasselhoff, Milla Jovovich, Tyson Beckford, Gina Gershon, Aida Turturo, Little Steven van Zandt, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

“Making the record” lasts under a minute, and has Nile Rodgers talking about Little Steven’s guitar part; it also includes footage of Nile and Little Steven working on the guitar part.

Overall, this is a well-done music documentary. It is highly recommend for people who are interested in seeing what goes on behind the scenes of recording a song like “We Are Family.”

I wrote this review after watching a copy of the We Are Family DVD that my husband and I purchased.

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