Carole Alston, a young African-American singer and dancer, decides to move from the
USA to Europe. After several engagements and guest performances she finally ends
up at the Vienna Volksoper. The city of music becomes her second home. 30 years on,
she once again embarks on a journey. A journey to the roots of jazz and the memorable
voices of the “Big Sisters”: Alberta Hunter, Sarah Vaughan and Nina Simone.
In his film FOR MY SISTERS, Stephanus Domanig accompanies Carole Alston on an
emotional musical search for places, venues and people that are inextricably linked
with the life story of the three jazz singers. These voices of jazz, marked by the
resistance against racism and suppression, were brilliant at exposing injustices
without actually stating them.
The documentary leads us from New Orleans into the Mississippi Delta and to New
York. Carole takes us on a touching yet humorous film journey back to the tragic and
harrowing beginnings of jazz: for instance, she gives us an understanding of the
work songs, which were sung by the cotton-picking slaves and which ultimately
became the songs of the civil rights movement.
The film opens a door into a forgotten world of inequality, the repercussions of
which can be felt to this very day. Carole meets old jazz legends and new “Sisters”,
thus drawing a link to the present and finding herself and the music in her life:
jazz needs to be lived to be played.
FOR MY SISTERS grooves, swings and en passant conveys issues that are deeply
moving. An impressive film that will stay with you for a long time.