Women on the verge of a social breakdown | Movie Sidebar | Chicago Reader

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Women on the verge of a social breakdown

Life, Above All looks closely at the sexism and superstition that runs through poor South African Life

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ADAPTED FROM A NOVEL BY ALLAN STRATON, this 2010 feature combines deftly executed melodrama with an eye-opening look at the ills confronting poor rural women in South Africa. Young Khomotso Manyaka, discovered in a school choir in Elandsdoorn, gives a fine debut performance as 12-year-old Chanda, who lives in a village outside Johannesburg with her mother and two younger siblings. Her father is gone, her mother's current boyfriend is a violent lout, and grinding poverty has driven Chanda's best friend at school to prostitute herself at the local truck stop. These problems begin to pale in comparison, though, after a rumor that Chanda's mother has contracted AIDS turns the village violently against the family. Director Oliver Schmitz is particularly attentive to the superstition and ingrained sexism that make life miserable for these people, though he also seems to view women as the country's best hope. In Sotho and French with subtitles. PG-13, 100 min. Fri-Mon 9/2-9/5, 2:15, 4:30, 7, and 9:30 PM, and Tue-Thu 9/6-9/8, 4:30, 7, and 9:30 PM. Music Box

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