Life, Above All
A child tries to hold her family together against prejudice, disease, and ignorance in this drama from South Africa. Chanda (Khomotso Manyaka) is only 12 years old, but she's already been forced to take on many of the responsibilities of an adult in her household. Chanda's father is gone, her stepfather, Jonah (Aubrey Poolo), is an irresponsible alcoholic, and her mother, Lillian (Lerato Mvelase), has been physically and emotionally devastated by AIDS and the death of her youngest child. Despite Chanda's dire circumstances, most of her neighbors offer little sympathy, believing her mother's illness is the result of divine judgment against her, and her reputation isn't helped by the fact that one of her few loyal friends is Esther (Keaobaka Makanyane), a sharp-tongued prostitute. Mrs. Tafa (Harriet Manamela), an elderly member of the village, believes she can help Chandra by moving her mother out of the community, but the girl knows she needs her mother no matter how ill she may be, and sets out to find her and bring her back home. Adapted from a novel by Allan Stratton, Life, Above All was an official selection at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.