Life, Above All

Synopsis: 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 silenc
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Oliver Schmitz
Production: Sony Pictures Classics
  6 wins & 6 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
100 min

The gates are opening


The gates are opening

The gates are opening

Are your parents late?


Who's coming?

Your papa?

He's working.

Your mother?

Mama's not feeling well.

An uncle?

An aunt?

Come with me.

Don't worry.

There are less costly ones.

There are all kinds

of models for infants.

There is lining all around the coffin.

Sarah will look beautiful

shrouded in white.

All you'll see is her pretty face.

Iris, careful.

Sarah's been sleeping all morning.

Go wake her, I want to go inside.

Wait for Mama to say so.

- Why is Sarah sleeping?

- Because she's a baby.

- I want to come in!

- Not now.

Let me in or I'll tell my father!

Hello, Mama.

Mr. Chauke says he'll come

for Sarah at 1:

...and that you shouldn't worry,

it will be a beautiful funeral.

Tell him not to come.

We can't afford it.

- But...

- The money's gone.

- What?

- Someone stole it.

I heard about Sarah.

So sad.

Jonah! It's Chanda.

He beat himself with a rock,

to chase out the demons.

Not hard enough!

You're funny!

Mr. Chauke is coming for Sarah

at 1:

One o'clock!

What are you doing?

It's to bury Sarah.

Hey! Give that back!

Give that money back!

Look who decided to come to school!


Where were you this morning?

It's my little sister.

She passed away.

I'm sorry.

Stay home a few days.

Becca! Calm down!


Don't look at me like that!

You skip classes, so do I.

What is it?


I'm sorry.

Really sorry.

Hello, Mrs. Tafa.

Can I phone Mama's family?

I came by this morning,

but nobody answered.

I'm sorry.

It's Sarah.

I heard.

Hey, you!

Go play somewhere else!


Mama doesn't want them to know.

Your mother is a wise woman.

Can I call the family from your house?

It's your mama

who should do the calling.

The funeral is Thursday.


Please let them know, Mr. Kamwendo.


Sarah's death is so sad.

Just like my Emmanuel's.

At least they died pure.

Everyone knows

Sarah died of influenza...

...and that my Emmanuel was killed

during that awful robbery.

No one can spread rumors

or point fingers.

You understand what I'm saying?

Do you?

Do you or don't you?

Mama. Will Grandma recognize me?

Sure, when she sees those cheeks!

- What about my cheeks?

- Let's see.

That's for sure.

The bus from Tiro is here!

I'm the only one who could come.

I'm sick of being bounced about

all day.

I've had enough.


Are these two from the new husband?


Hey, are you going to help me,

or just stand there looking lazy?

Chanda is always helping.

She's very good in school.

My back is killing me!

"My back is killing me!"

Cheeky! You're your mother's son!

Sarah is hiding. We have to find her.

How do we find her?

You have to know where to look.

I know all her hiding places.

I want to search too.

You're too little.

I have special eyes.

Nothing can hide from me.

You can scrub

but that dirt won't come out.

We'll see.

Lillian is always cleaning.

Ever since the day I put her up

with her late husband...'s always spotless.

- You put them up?

- Yes.

Mrs. Tafa is a real friend.

Remember when you rented

this place, how we fixed it up?

"God loves a cheerful giver."

Those bracelets.

How does she manage to wear them?

And her skirt!

It's so short,

if she bends over, all the neighbors...

...will see her panties!

Don't you worry,

I'm not wearing any panties.

What did she say?

This girl's always been a wild one!

And you tell me

she's Chanda's friend?

She helps us, at least.

Let me just tell you,

watch out for this Esther.

You feel sorry for her...

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Dennis Foon

Dennis Foon (born November 18, 1951 in Detroit) is a playwright, producer, screenwriter and novelist. He was artistic director of the Green Thumb Theatre for twelve years, before turning to films and television in 1986. He has written screenplays for many types of drama. In the mid-1990s his personal project Little Criminals became a success in Canada. His novels include The Longlight Legacy trilogy and Skud. Foon was born and raised in Detroit, but has worked and resided in Canada since 1973. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Life, Above All" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 25 Jun 2021. <,_above_all_12570>.

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