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Life, Above All Review

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After the death of her newly-born baby sister, 12 year-old Chanda (Manyaka) learns of a rumour that will soon force her to leave her South African village on a search for answers.

★★★★

A hit on the festival circuit, this South African drama focuses on a bright young girl, Chanda (Khomotso Manyaka), who’s mourning the death of her little sister and coming to terms with her mother’s supposedly mysterious illness. Her drunken, philandering stepfather is no use, so Chanda must run the family as her mother’s situation worsens. Nosey neighbours suggest rip-off quacks: Chanda’s smarter than that, but it’s a tough call to overcome the superstitions ruling a community living in fear. It’s a beautifully filmed and performed insight into those paying the highest possible price for pride and denial of the AIDS epidemic. Deeply moving without resorting to sentiment, it’s also a harrowing insight into child prostitution, but lightens the load with smart character humour and a sense of hope in the future. A very rewarding watch.

A tough but very rewarding watch.

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