Film based on Chandra’s Secrets can be seen at TIFF

The feature film, Life Above All, based on the novel Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton and directed by Oliver Schmitz, will will be playing at the Toronto International Film Festival.

For theatres and showtimes, please visit

A co-production between Dreamer Joint Venture Filmproduktion of Germany and Enigma Films of South Africa, the film tells the heart-breaking story of Chanda, a 16-year-old South African girl who is caught in the devastating AIDS pandemic with all its pain, loss, shame and guilt. It is, nevertheless, a story of hope as Chanda’s tremendous courage helps her find meaning and purpose in life despite the tragic events which afflict her and everyone she loves.

Described by the Globe and Mail as “a finely nuanced, beautifully articulated polemic, with a sparkling main character,” and by Stephen Lewis, former UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, as a “powerful story (that) hits home with its harsh truths, its pain and its hard-won hopefulness,” Chanda’s Secrets was first published in 2004 by Annick Press. Among its many honors, it has been named a Michael L. Printz Honor Book for Excellence in YA Literature, a Best Book for Older Readers by the Children’s Africana Book Awards and a finalist for Le prix sorcières of France. There are currently 11 foreign editions available in over 30 countries.

The screenplay, written by author, playwright and screenwriter Dennis Foon, was translated into a local dialect. Featuring an exclusively South African cast, the film is being released with English subtitles. Director Oliver Schmitz is a German–South African who is closely attached to the history of his native country. His debut film, Mapantsula, depicting the grim reality of South Africa’s black population, was made during the Apartheid without any shooting permits and under great personal risk. Seen around the world, the film received numerous awards and celebrated its world premiere at the Cannes International Film Festival, as did his drama Hijack Stories in 2001.

Author Allan Stratton was on the set for most of the filming and recorded the experience on his blog. The trailer can be viewed on his website at

Read the interview with Allan Stratton in the Metro news.