The devastating and beautiful Life, Above All closes The Human Rights International Film Festival Thursday night in NY. Details here. Director Oliver Schmitz and Lead Actress Khomotso Manyaka will participate in a Q and A following the screening.
Unlike some of the other films that played at this festival this one you will get a chance to see in theatres when it is released by Sony Pictures Classics on July 15. (I will also let you know when the other films will open or will be released on DVD. Make sure to either follow me on twitter or like the Women and Hollywood Facebook page for these types of updates)
Life, Above All tells the story of Chanda, a 12-year-old girl with responsibilities no adult should have to shoulder. It is a story of the scourge of AIDS in an average community in South Africa. It is the story of people who are afraid to even speak the word because then it will be actually real. It is the story of a community that abandons its own.
Chanda played by first time actress Khomotso Manyaka — in an exquisite performance — is a girl doing everything except what a 12=year-old is supposed to do. Her baby sister has just died. Her stepfather is missing and sick, and her beloved mother is sick and dying. She has two younger siblings to care for and a best friend whose whole family has died and she has resorted to prostitution for survival. Way too much.
Her mother is dying of AIDS yet she refuses to say the word out loud to stigmatize her daughter. So she leaves. But Chanda will not let her mother die on her own. She goes and gets her mother from an abandoned place out in the middle of nowhere and brings her back home and stands up to a community of adults who are too afraid to do what she did. A beautiful story of love and courage.