Should 2020 Be Forgot? Choir Rings Out Year With 'Auld Lang Syne' : The Picture Show 2020 will be over soon. But director Tyler Jones says it's important that we take time to honor and amplify the lessons learned during this year of racial reckoning.
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You Might Be Ready To Forget 2020. This Film Reminds You Why You Shouldn't

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You Might Be Ready To Forget 2020. This Film Reminds You Why You Shouldn't

You Might Be Ready To Forget 2020. This Film Reminds You Why You Shouldn't

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There's a question repeated in the classic New Year's song, "Auld Lang Syne." Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Well, this year, many people think, yeah, let's put 2020 in our rearview mirror and never speak of it again.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Filmmaker Tyler Jones says no. Precisely because the past year was so difficult for so many, it's important not to forget the challenges we faced.

TYLER JONES: What did we just go through? What did we just experience in 2020?

CHANG: Jones explores that question in a new short film called "For The Sake Of Old Times." It opens on 11-year-old Jaxon Moore seated in a church pew.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FOR THE SAKE OF OLD TIMES")

JAXON MOORE: (Singing) Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?

CORNISH: As the camera shot changes, you see a church dotted with singers, socially distanced. The choir, African American, is composed of community singers in Birmingham, Ala. who have never sung together professionally. They also weren't able to rehearse together due to COVID-19.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FOR THE SAKE OF OLD TIMES")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) We two have run about the hills and picked the daisies fine.

CHANG: Eventually, the scope of the film changes. Shots from the church alternate with archival footage from the past year, images from the summer's racial justice protests. Jones, who is white, says he wanted the film to honor the racial reckoning that happened this year.

JONES: Here in Birmingham, the city finally removed its Confederate monument in the public park this summer.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FOR THE SAKE OF OLD TIMES")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) We'll take a cup of kindness...

JONES: We wanted to have this moment where community members come together and sing this song to encourage reflection on this year, to slow down this song and hopefully give us space to pause.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FOR THE SAKE OF OLD TIMES")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) And here's a hand of mine.

JONES: Woven into the piece is archival footage. We see a protest in Chattanooga as well as marches in Nashville. There's footage from Richmond, Va., of the removal of the Stonewall Jackson. And then our closing shot is of a mural featuring the late John Lewis in Atlanta.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FOR THE SAKE OF OLD TIMES")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) But we've wandered many a weary foot since auld lang syne.

JONES: To me, the piece is a personal encouragement going into the future that we hopefully strive to work together for a kinder future, especially at a time where we are so distanced. For me, the piece is just an encouragement that we are deeply connected. Regardless of who is in the White House, I hope that this piece is a reminder that, at the end of the day, all of our destinies are linked.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FOR THE SAKE OF OLD TIMES")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Vocalizing).

CORNISH: Tyler Jones, director and editor of "For The Sake Of Old Times." His film debuted on npr.org this week.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FOR THE SAKE OF OLD TIMES")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Vocalizing).

(Singing) For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne.

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