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Movies That Matter: Life, Above All

By Carol Boyd

Life, Above All is an emotional and universal drama about a young girl 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, it is based on the international award-winning novel “Chanda’s Secrets” by Allan Stratton.

In the dusty small town of Elandsdoorn, a South African township not far from Johannesburg, life is simple and serene. A prevailing sense of deep pride tightly bonds together the entire community – but beware to those who step out of line.

Twelve-year-old Chanda is a hardworking promising young student with a bright future, but her life changes dramatically when her baby sister unexpectedly dies. Heartbroken, Chanda’s mother, Lillian, in turn becomes severely ill. Her stepfather drowns himself in alcohol, leaving the young girl to take care of her two smaller siblings. Meanwhile, the formerly friendly neighbors become increasingly distant and gossip spreads. Suspecting that the community’s irrational ostracism has to do with her mother’s illness and the death of her baby sister, Chanda demands answers but is met with stubborn silence. Unwilling to bear the weight of secrecy any longer, Chanda sets out to face a deeply engrained, unspoken taboo.

This film will be shown as part of the Movies That Matter series at the UUFDC on Tues., July 17, at 4:30 pm.

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