Young People’s Chorus of New York City’s ‘This Time Round’ Documentary to Premiere at Manhattan Film Festival

By Afton Wooten

The Young People’s Chorus of New York City’s documentary film, “This Time Round,” has been selected to make its U.S. premiere at the 2024 Manhattan Film Festival.

Through song and the children’s own voices, the film documents the choristers’ uplifting journey from fear and isolation during the early pandemic lockdown to unity and hope through the power of music. The project initially debuted as an art exhibit in Manhattan’s Chelsea district to support students’ mental health during COVID-19. Founder and Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez then teamed with social impact filmmaker Ansley Sawyer to create a feature film documenting the personal stories of the choristers and the composers.

As Núñez felt it was essential, he worked to maintain the community and singing during the pandemic. He collaborated with several composers, asking each to create a round, designed to be easily sung by the children over Zoom and on their phones. Showcasing nearly 600 children ages eight to 18, the film’s 15 vignettes chronicle this singular challenge, conveying the children’s isolation, yearning, and ultimately joy.

“Contrary to misconceptions at the time, the impact of the pandemic on children’s mental health cannot be overestimated,” stated Núñez in a press release.“The film serves as a visual testament to these composers’ and young artists’ struggles and triumphs: from the depths of isolation to their gradual reemergence into a changed world. Through the lens of the camera, we witness the resilience of 600 children, finding solace in music and sharing their voices with the world.”

The 2024 Manhattan Film Festival takes place June 13-23 at Cinema Village. “This Time Round” makes its premiere on June 21 at 5 p.m.