Wednesday, June 05, 2019

A Review of Soar Torian Soar by Wanda Sabir

"Soar Torian Soar"
“Soar Torian Soar” co-directed by Audrey Candy Corn and Peter Menchini is the story of an active grief ritual. The film chronicles Corn's loss of her eldest son Torian Hughes to violence—a parental rite of passage all too familiar to mothers in Oakland. Heart shattered, Candy Corn's neighbors and friends help her literally sort through Torian's belongings bagged and stacked in the various rooms in the family’s West Oakland home. Sorting through her son's items tells the stories of his first crush, wish for a brother granted and photos reflecting the care he took of his siblings and the great affection he had for mom. Corn shares her parenting values and the degree to which these values countered, even cushioned what her three boys, the eldest, Torian Hughes, a casualty of that contradiction, experience daily.  

In a recent interview co-directors, Corn and Menchini talk about the decision to not just document her journey which continues, but share the personal work with a larger community. Corn says that she is now inducted into a “sea of grieving mothers” populated by the descendants along a familiar ancestral route. At her son's killers trial her attorney offered the youth a deal which would have shaved 35 years off his sentence. His attorney refused. Now the 22 year old is facing up to 60 years.

The screening, Sunday, June 9, 2:30 pm at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street, in San Francisco, as a part of the 16th Annual SF Documentary Film Festival through June 13 there will be a community forum afterward with a panel including directors moderated by Otis Taylor. Visit

Torian Hughes’s flesh reminds one of Emmett Till’s body and his mother, Mamie Elizabeth Till Mobley decision to grieve in public her son’s brutal killing. The log line for “Soar Torian Soar” is “It Takes a Community to Heal. Aché.”  While Till’s death became the catalyst for a rumbling sparked a revolutionary movement when African America saw visually what hatred of black people produced, Money, Mississippi, August 28, 1955 emblematic racial injustice, Torian’s death is the other side of the loss. It is what this mother, these brothers, this community, need to do to heal. Corn shows viscerally what it means to lose a child. We never really know how the loss feels in Mobley’s body, how her son’s death shows up in her inability to function and who is there to help her.

The co-directors meet at a protest on Valentine’s Day. Corn had been video documenting her various feelings about her son’s death. The plan grew from making a personal document to remember Torian to this public statement from “a grieving, yet a breathing mother,” a phrase Corn coins.

She says, “What I have faced and the trauma that I'm dealing with is something that I'll be dealing with the rest of my life. Although my story is unique, it is very similar— I have inherited a sea of grieving mothers. Unfortunately, the beauty of it is through the pain the 'Soar Torian Soar' short documentary film was birthed. ‘Soar Torian Soar’ is a part of my healing. I'm continuing to be in the struggle with everyday waking up being reminded that I am a current mother of two remaining surviving male children who are current targets, and it's not because of them being menaces to society. It is because I've done everything that society is asked me to do and now it is time for the community to pour in. You know, you have to be the change that you want to see.”
“We agreed [implicitly] that this film would just be very honest and very present and that we would pull no punches,” Peter Menchini states, “but also to have no melodrama and nothing fortuitous and that it wouldn't drag anything out, but on the other hand, it would not shut down a mother's grief that would not silence her voice.”

Listen to an interview with directors: 


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