Her stepfather drowns himself in alcohol, leaving the young woman to look after her two sisters that are smaller. The formerly friendly neighbors become more and more remote and gossip spreads. “Auntie” Tafa does what she can to assist by acquiring Lillian to leave city, but not “Auntie” is resistant to the cloud of dread ripping across Elandsdoorn. Suspecting the community’s absurd ostracism must do with her mother’s sickness and the death of her infant sister, Chanda needs responses but is met with stubborn silence. Unwilling to bear the burden of secrecy no more, Chanda lays out to confront a deeply engrained 123movies, unspoken taboo…
Included in this Human Rights Watch Film Festival here in Toronto, my beautiful wife and I made our way to the TIFF Lightbox to participate in”Life, Above All”. It is a South African film that, according to the synopsis, is all about”a young woman [Chanda] at a little, AIDS-ravaged South African township who fights to keep a facade of ordinary life threatening absolute uncertainty: her stepfather is an alcoholic, and her newborn sister has lately expired, and her mother is now afflicted with the AIDS virus”
The community turns against the family members and Chanda’s greatest friend, Esther, that must turn into’whoring’ to earn money following her parent’s deaths. The narrative is a strong one and a photo of a few of the devastation that HIV/AIDS could wreak. However, I believe there were some additional items to draw from the movie that have not been touched on in other reviews.
As one review says it, the film is a”somewhat soft lob to conscientious liberal audiences using a weakness for cute, poverty-stricken kids”. Every picture tells a story and, beyond that narrative, is an inherent message. Even those pesky popcorn action flicks have messages which are being depicted – there is nothing as a narrative with no significance or, multiple meanings. So how can filmmakers decide to tell the story and form the message? In the event of poverty, or HIV, or warfare, or just about any other human rights problems, the story has been advised via”cute” children.