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Life, Above All (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (2011)

Khomotso Manyaka , Keaobaka Makanyane , Oliver Schmitz  |  PG-13 |  Blu-ray
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Region 35522 encoding (This DVD will not play on most DVD players sold in the US or Canada [Region 1]. This item requires a region specific or multi-region DVD player and compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Khomotso Manyaka, Keaobaka Makanyane, Harriet Lenabe, Lerato Mvelase, Tinah Mnumzana
  • Directors: Oliver Schmitz
  • Writers: Oliver Schmitz, Allan Stratton, Dennis Foon
  • Producers: Dan Schlanger, Daniela Ramin, Greig Buckle, Helge Sasse
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 6, 2011
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005MYEPZ0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,588 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Life, Above All (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)" on IMDb

Special Features

The Making of Life, Above All

Editorial Reviews

Through the eyes of a stoic 12-year-old, German-South African filmmaker Oliver Schmitz (Mapantsula) tells a tale both specific and universal. As it begins, Chanda (Khomotso Manyaka, an arresting presence) has lost her baby sister to an undisclosed illness. To make matters worse, her stepfather, Jonah, has stolen money from her mother, Lillian (Lerato Mvelase), to buy alcohol, so Chanda, who lives just outside Johannesburg, wrests it back so Sara can have a proper funeral. It's a small victory before her troubles start to accumulate. Then Lillian falls ill, so Chanda helps to care for her younger siblings with assistance from Mrs. Tafa (Harriet Lenabe), a neighbor who loves them as if they were her own (her son passed away years before). Unfortunately, the widow is as pious as the rest of the township; she doesn't just look down on Jonah, but on Chanda's friend Esther (the soulful Keaobaka Makanyane), an orphan who wears outfits she finds inappropriate. But the girl has a sweet disposition, and Chanda takes solace in their friendship. As Lillian's condition worsens, Mrs. Tafa recommends she return home, ostensibly to recover, leaving Chanda to tend to Esther by herself when she suffers an attack. Only when the situation couldn't get much worse do Chanda's fortunes finally begin to improve. In adapting Allan Stratton's young adult novel Chanda's Secrets, Schmitz illustrates the consequences for an entire community when ignorance and superstition overtake comfort and support for those struggling with substance abuse and AIDS. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Product Description

Just after the death of her newly born sister, Chanda (12) learns of a rumour spreading through her small village near Johannesburg. It destroys her family and forces her mother to flee. Chanda leaves home and school in search of her mother - and the truth. Life, Above All is an emotional and universal drama about a young girl (stunningly performed by first-time-actress Khomotso Manyaka) who fights the fear and shame that have poisoned her community. The film captures the enduring strength of loyalty and a courage powered by the heart. Directed by South African filmmaker Oliver Schmitz (Mapantsula, Paris, je t-aime), it is based on the international award winning novel 'Chanda's Secrets' by Allan Stratton.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Film Making from South Africa December 24, 2013
This moving film is based on the book `Chanda's Secret's' by Allan Stratton and has been adapted for the screen by the much talented Oliver Schmitz (Paris Je te'aime). It is the story of Chanda played with great ability by first time actress Khomotso Manyaka. Her father is dead and her mother has remarried a no good alcoholic who has borne him three more children, Chanda is the eldest and so when her mother becomes `ill' she takes on the role of mother, carer and worrier for the whole family.

The step father is an alcoholic who has forgotten why he started drinking but not where to go for it and drunken `extra marital conjugation'. He also blames his wife for the death of their youngest child, but is still able to steal the funeral money for his own ends.

Into this mix Chanda has an only friend called Esther; this poor soul has no-one, no hope and no money. She ekes out an existence by selling her under age body to predators who stop at the local lorry park. Her `lifestyle choice' as some would call it means that she is cast out by the community. This community also believes in witchcraft, superstition and quack doctors. They also believe that `The Disease' -HIV is a punishment from God and that the person with it is possessed. Chanda is judged by the company she keeps and because she wants to do what is right she too gets judged.

This is a beautifully acted , directed and photographed piece of cinema, the story itself would have been compelling enough but so much more is thrown into the mix, that would be spoilers if divulged, that this becomes something special.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful film! December 3, 2011
I saw this at a film festival and highly recommend it - It is a beautiful film and wonderful depiction of the stigma of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa esp in small communities and the effect of the epidemic on children.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
From South American director Oliver Schmitz and screenwriter Dennis Foon comes a film adaptation of Allan Stratton's 2004 novel "Chanda's Secrets".

The film highlights the ongoing problem of AIDS in South Africa and how neighbors condemn neighbors who have it, how far families go to hide the truth of a family member who has it but also the problem of how many children are left to run a household and take care of younger siblings as their parent is sick or dying of the disease.

"Life, Above All" was screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and was selected as the South African entry for "Best Foreign Language Film" for the 83rd Academy Awards. And now "Life, Above All" will be released on Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack from Sony Pictures Classics.


"Life, Above All" is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1). Picture quality is fantastic as there is a lot of detail in this film. First, the colors are warm and vibrant! Close-up shots of the character reveals the pores on the skin of the characters to seeing the detail in the homes from old paint to the dirty shack where Esther was living. There is plenty of detail and the colors of the film really stood out!

Colors are vibrant, black levels are nice and deep and for the most part, clarity and detail are very impressive with "Life, Above All". Also, the cinematography (especially when Chanda goes to look for her mother) by Bernhard Jasper ("Open Water 2: Adrift", "Kiss Me Kismet") is beautiful!


"Life, Above All" is presented in Northern Sotho 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The dialogue is primarily center and front channel driven. I noticed that the music by Alli N.
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT MOVIE! March 21, 2014
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I fell in love with this movie having caught it by accident on cable and since then I was hooked. I was SO happy to find it and get a good deal on it in your marketplace. I received a quality product within the timeframe allotted at an affordable price so I am very very pleased and would definitely recommend products and service to anyone! Thank you!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Movie About Love and Courage March 18, 2012
The characters were very real and quickly drew you into their lives and their struggles. The relationship between the two girls was the most amazing part of the movie. This movie shows what is really happening in the world. It shows how deep friendships and love are the key to their great strength in enduring the everyday hardships. I was very sorry not to see this movie be nominated for an Academy Award. In fact, I think it should have even won, it was that good. If you want a light, witty movie, then this movie is not for you. But if you want a deeply moving movie where you quickly come to love the main characters, then you will enjoy it. This movie left me with knowing who the true heroes of the world are. Outstanding casting, especially for the two young girls.
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