Life, Above All


Life, Above All

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Total Count: 74


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,160
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Movie Info

Just after the death of her newly-born sister, Chanda, 12 years old, learns of a rumor that spreads like wildfire through her small, dust-ridden village near Johannesburg. It destroys her family and forces her mother to flee. Sensing that the gossip stems from prejudice and superstition, Chanda leaves home and school in search of her mother and the truth. Life, Above All is an emotional and universal drama about a young girl (stunningly performed by first-time-actress Khomotso Manyaka) who fights the fear and shame that have poisoned her community. The film captures the enduring strength of loyalty and a courage powered by the heart. Directed by South African filmmaker Oliver Schmitz (Mapantsula), it is based on the international award winning novel Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton. -- (C) Sony Classics

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Tinah Mnumzana
as Aunt Lizbet
Rami Cuene
as Aunty Ruth
Jerry Marobyane
as Mr. Pheto
Patrick Shai
as Dr. Chilume
Nelson Motloung
as Mr. Chauke
Ernest Mokoena
as Sipho Mandla
Mary Twala
as Mrs. Gulubane
Themba Ndaba
as Mr. Selalame
Samuel Masilela
as Young Man
Bhekifa Isaac Nyathi
as Ruth's Boyfriend
Sarah Aphane
as Receptionist
Foxy Riet
as Nurse Nkosi
Solly Moeng
as Police Officer
Xolile Gama
as Mr. Kamwendo
Martha Maphaka
as Granny Thela
Malanane Mohlamonyane
as Dudu's Male Friend
Regina Makitla
as Truck Stop Hooker #2
Wendy Makua
as Passing Nosy Woman #1
Zanele Xekwa
as Passing Nosy Woman #2
Selinah Madihlaba
as Choir Member #1
Priscar Mashego
as Choir Member #2
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Critic Reviews for Life, Above All

All Critics (74) | Top Critics (29)

  • A well-meaning but ploddingly earnest after-school special...

    Sep 15, 2011 | Rating: 2/4
  • "Life, Above All" earns the tears it inspires. The film is about deep human emotions, evoked with sympathy and love.

    Sep 1, 2011 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Perseverance is the theme of "Life, Above All," a drama that is deeply affecting, if also overwhelmingly bleak.

    Aug 25, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • There is less in-your-face grit in Cape Town-born director Oliver Schmitz's vision for this film than there is a careful pacing of somber revelations.

    Aug 19, 2011 | Rating: 3/4
  • In such a bleak story, the redemptive ending seems rushed and unconvincing, but director Oliver Schmitz has sent us a timely dispatch from a forgotten corner of the world that is honest above all.

    Aug 12, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • "Life, Above All," a deeply moving South African drama about AIDS and ostracism, manages to be, paradoxically, both austere and uplifting.

    Aug 5, 2011 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Life, Above All

  • Jan 20, 2013
    As young as she is, Chanda(Khomotso Manyaka) is forced to be the adult of the house when her infant sister dies. Her mother(Lerato Mvelase) is obviously emotionally distraught while her stepfather Jonah(Aubrey Poolo) finds comfort in other women and controlled substances. In fact, Chanda has to steal back the money for the funeral from him. At least, she has help from her friend Esther(Keaobaka Makanyane) while Mrs. Tafa(Harriet Lenabe), a neighbor, takes Chanda's two younger siblings(Thato Kgaladi & Mapaseka Mathebe) in to babysit during the funeral. On the other hand, her mother's family is little help at all, just sending one reluctant representative, her Aunt Lizbet(Tinah Mnumzana). In this maelstrom, Chanda even tries to attend school but is informed by her teacher that she can have a couple of days off. With an extended introduction that has a tenuous link to the rest of the story, "Life, Above All" is an earnest and compelling coming of age movie. At the same time, it also has much to say about the sad state of current healthcare in South Africa, dominated as it is by quacks, past traditions and overwhelmed hospitals, with a special emphasis on AIDS which is treated as a shameful affliction while the true shame is how the disease's victims are treated so badly. At least, Chanda is a beacon of hope for her country's future, considering her intelligence, bravery and compassion.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 20, 2012
    "Life, Above All" hit me harder emotionally than any movie I have ever seen. Shame withers the soul, born from an unawareness of why we are who we are. Here, we watch a young girl experience the devastating effects that shame has on all the people she cares about. Nothing good comes from shame. Empathy is the answer. Encouragement is the answer. Education is the answer. What our young heroin does here is the answer.
    Matthew S Super Reviewer

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