This documentary shares the story of Elana Bolds, a funeral singer based in Richmond California whose singing career spans over two decades. As Bolds reflects on her experience, she talks about how she got started as a funeral singer and how her music provides healing for families who are grieving. Bolds began to notice that over the years she was being asked to sing more frequently at funerals of young African American men who were victims of gun violence. Every year, the faces in the caskets seemed younger and younger and eventually the constant requests began to wear on her. Becoming fed up with the rising number of African American youth dying from gun violence she decided she had to do something other than just sing. Bolds started a grass roots program called “Put the Guns Down,” in hopes of getting Richmond families to connect with their neighbors and learn about the different resources they have to help communities dealing with loss and trauma. Community violence in cities like Richmond is cyclical and unrelenting. The constant uncertainty wears on residents unsure of where and when the next burst of violence will strike. But people like Bolds — who see this violence up close — remain hopeful. Each year, she gathers her team to organize another “Put the Guns Down” event, regardless of what the previous year may have brought, and works to create a better future.
Directed by Manjula Varghese (USA)