‘An unimaginably big heart’

Cannes Film Fest Winner from South Africa is an emotionally rich adaptation of the novel Chanda's Secrets.



Cannes Film Fest Winner from South Africa is an emotionally rich adaptation of the novel Chanda’s Secrets.

This official selection of the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival and Winner of the Francois Chalais prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Life, Above All is a film about a little South African girl with an unimaginably big heart.

South African filmmaker Oliver Schmitz (Mapantsula, Paris, je t’aime) tells the story of 12-year-old Chanda (newcomer Khomotso Manyaka), who endures her family’s burdens with unrelenting courage and unending loyalty.


Strong narrative drive and a lived-in sense of community distinguish Life, Above All, as a traditional but emotionally rich adaptation of Allan Stratton’s novel Chanda’s Secrets.

Chanda and her family live a simple life in the small township of Elandsdoorn, just outside of Johannesburg.



When the family loses an infant daughter named Sarah, the township comes together to offer condolences and prayers. With two younger siblings, an absent alcoholic stepfather, and a mother who appears to be ill with grief, Chanda becomes the family’s pillar of strength.

The community at first appears to be tight-knit and well-meaning; however, as soon as rumours begin to circulate about the ailing health of Chanda’s mother Esther (Keaobaka Makanyane) and the conditions surrounding Sarah’s death, the townspeople’s support quickly deteriorates.

The core of the story is the bond of unyielding love between mother and daughter. In a role reversal that happens much too soon, Chanda becomes the caretaker and protector of the woman who gave her life and taught her unconditional love.



Life Above All is an affecting and poignant story about a remarkable girl who was forced to grow up much too soon.

The remaining lineup for the CVAG/TIFF Fall Film Series:


• Life Above All — Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. Director: Oliver Schmitz, Cast: Khomotso Manyaka, Keaobaka Makanyane. Year: 2011. Genre: Drama. Country: South Africa/Germany. Language: Sotho (w. subtitles).

Cave of Forgotten Dreams — Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. Director: Werner Herzog, Cast: Werner Herzog, Dominique Baffier, Year: 2011, Genre: Documentary, Country: Canada/USA/France/Germany/UK, Language: English, German (w. subtitles).

Tickets are $11 each, available at the CVAG Gift Shop (580 Duncan Ave. in Courtenay), Video’s N More (264 Anderton Rd., Comox) and if not sold out will also be available at the door (in the Rialto lobby, cash only, exact change appreciated).

All screenings are on Sundays at 5 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre, 2665 Cliffe Ave, Courtenay (at Driftwood Mall).

For more information call 250-338-6211 or visit www.comoxvalleyartgallery.com for a complete listing of films including film synopsis, reviews and trailers.

— Comox Valley Art Gallery


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