Life, Above All (2010)
"Le secret de Chanda" (original title)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  12 May 2011 (Germany)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,064 users   Metascore: 65/100
Reviews: 9 user | 75 critic | 26 from

A touching mother-daughter relationship that reflects the modern South Africa.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Khomotso Manyaka ...
Keaobaka Makanyane ...
Harriet Lenabe ...
Mrs. Tafa (as Harriet Manamela)
Lerato Mvelase ...
Tinah Mnumzana ...
Aunt Lizbet
Aubrey Poolo ...
Mapaseka Mathebe ...
Thato Kgaladi ...
Kgomotso Ditshweni ...
Rami Chuene ...
Aunty Ruth
Jerry Marobyane ...
Mr. Pheto
Tshepo Emmanuel Nonyane ...
Mr. Lesole
Johanna Refilwe Sihlangu ...
Mrs. Lesole
Vusi Muzi Given Nyathi ...
Mr. Nylo
Patrick Shai ...
Dr. Charles Chilume


In the dusty small town of Elandsdoorn, a South African township not far from Johannesburg, life is simple and serene. A prevailing sense of deep pride tightly bonds together the entire community - but beware to those who step out of line ... 12-year-old Chanda is a hardworking promising young student with a bright future, but her life changes dramatically when her baby sister unexpectedly dies. Heartbroken, Chanda's mother, Lillian, in turn becomes severely ill. Her stepfather drowns himself in alcohol, leaving the young girl to take care of her two smaller siblings. Meanwhile, the formerly friendly neighbors become increasingly distant and gossip spreads. "Auntie" Tafa does what she can to help by getting Lillian to leave town, but not even "Auntie" is immune to the cloud of fear filtering across Elandsdoorn. Suspecting that the community's irrational ostracism has to do with her mother's illness and the death of her baby sister, Chanda demands answers but is met with stubborn ... Written by Bavaria International

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material and some sexual content | See all certifications »


Official Sites:




Release Date:

12 May 2011 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida, Acima de Tudo  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$13,788 (USA) (15 July 2011)


$132,960 (USA) (11 November 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

A truly magnificent movie
30 January 2015 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

This movie should be compulsory viewing for all budding film students. In fact all film makers, everywhere, should be locked in a small, locked room, strapped down and forced to watch this. For in the hour and a half it takes to watch this movie you will learn more about what movie making is truly all about. Here is a movie with a heart, a soul and perhaps most importantly, a point. It will rip your heart apart and along the way make you feel infinitely guilty that you have the couple of bucks to rent this movie, let alone enough money to own a television set to watch it on. Yet this is not the "message" this is simply a consequence of telling a real life story, of people with nothing and who just get on with life. It is indictment on the human race that we live in such inequitable times, yet again, that is not the message, just the backdrop. The actors in this movie are simply magnificent. Not only is the "lead" actor who plays Chanda stunningly good but also those who play small, almost minute parts. Amongst a truly outstanding cast the young girls who play 12 year old Esther and 6 year oldish Iris are simply phenomenal, these tiny children conveying more in a smile or the tiniest wrinkle of their faces than a veteran actor of 60 years. How they even understood what they had to do amazes me, how they actually did it astounds me.

This is a "simple" story but then again the best things in life are simple. This is a movie mostly about humanity, and sometimes about the lack of humanity. It is about personal strength, about love, about the triumph (at least in this case) of compassion over everything the world can throw at you. OK, 100,000 movies have already been made about this stuff, and 100,000 more are still to be made. But this one actually works. See it and be amazed.

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