‘Soar, Torian, Soar’: Homage to profound human suffering

Torian’s mother, Audrey Candy Corn, and Tiny (Lisa Gray-Garcia) of Homefulness create a ritual to burn Torian’s belongings, a sad task mandated by homelessness.

by Carol Harvey

From before September 2011, when San Francisco Occupy hit town, I spent time with Peter Menchini videoing social justice demonstrations. I saw him as a superlative videographer at that early time. But his new video collaboration with Audrey Candy Corn “Soars” (and I use that word purposefully) way above any of his other cinematic achievements – at least that I have seen.

“Soar, Torian, Soar” is a film documentary opening at the Roxie Theater on Sunday, June 9, at 2:30 p.m. as part of the 2019 DocFest. It is an homage to the profoundest kind of human suffering – an Oakland mother’s soul-tearing loss of her eldest son, Torian, by sudden violence.

In a KALX radio interview, Audrey Candy Corn explains: “‘Soar, Torian, Soar’ is an ongoing journey. It is my life experience as I walk this earth. I wanted to be able to have a space where I could genuinely be genuine and just free to be.” Menchini’s skillful videography combines with Candy Corn’s up-close-and-personal footage to give her that respectful space in which to feel. In a series of moments of pure empathy, Candy Corn and the viewer – including myself – deeply connect. The result is emotional and compelling.

Candy Corn and Menchini decided at the beginning of their collaboration to be immediate and unapologetic in filming her grief.

The 30-minute video opens with Candy Corn’s pain-ravaged eyes peering out at the viewer. “This is me. Think I’m dying,” she says.

At one point she sits in a closet sequestered from her sons because she doesn’t want them to see her cry.

Candy Corn comes to terms with Torian’s murder while raising two sweet and intelligent younger boys who she teaches to take care of each other. Homelessness forces her to dispose of and burn Torian’s belongings, which she accomplishes with the help of Tiny Gray-Gracia’s group, Homefulness.

Candy Corn processes Torian’s loss and finds transcendent moments that raise her and her three sons to a higher level of being. “I used to call myself a Revolutionary, but since Torian’s transition, I call myself a Love-olutionary,” she says.

“At the end of the day, it’s really not about color. It’s about the spirit of the individual,” she tells the KALX interviewer.

“We come from different worlds, but not so much different.”

Carol Harvey is a San Francisco political journalist specializing in human rights and civil rights. She can be reached at carolharvey1111@gmail.com.

Soar, Torian, Soar (trailer – Theatrical Version 2019) from Peter Menchini – Maya Media on Vimeo.