Much lauded at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Life, Above All, the new film from South African-born filmmaker Oliver Schmitz has been selected by the South African Academy Award Selection Committee and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) to be entered into the Best Foreign Film category of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards (Oscars).
If the film is approved by the Oscars Selection Committee, it will represent South Africa as a nominee in the category.
“Life, Above All has proven internationally that it is a story that resonates with the audiences by the reception it received at previous global festivals. The storyline, high quality direction and production, and the excellent performances portrayed by the actresses will stand the film in good stead when presented to the International Academy Awards Selection Committee’, says Eddie Mbalo, CEO of the NFVF and chairperson of the SA Academy Awards Selection Committee.
Oliver Schmitz is known for having directed the cult South African films Mapantsula and Hijack Stories. Life, Above All stars Lerato Mvelase (Home Affairs), Harriet Manamela (Hotel Rwanda, Hijack Stories) and Khomotso Manyaka.
The film is based on the international award winning novel Chanda’s Secret by Allan Stratton. It is an emotional and universal drama about a young girl who fights the fear and shame that has poisoned her community. The film captures the enduring strength of loyalty and a courage powered by the heart. Shot on location in a small town of Elandsdoorn in Limpopo Province, the story is narrated predominantly in Northern Sotho.
In addition to its 10-minute standing at Cannes, the film was awarded the Prix Francois Chalais, which was presented to the South African co-producer Greig Buckle. Life Above All also scooped the Best Actress Award by first time actress Khomotso Manyaka (Chanda) at the 31st Durban International Film Festival.
During the judging, the South African panel expressed appreciation for the film. “Life, Above All is a beautiful movie about strength, survival, friendship, love and all the good things about Africa, set against the backdrop of the unfortunate things about Africa. It’s a beautifully made film by a beautiful director with absolutely extraordinary perfomances by actors who deserve to be seen by the world,’ said Thandi Brewer.
“We chose Life Above All entirely on artistic merit, it is fantastically a well crafted film with exquisite performances and superb technical offering,’ added Tendeka Matatu.
Lesley Mofokeng, City Press 7 Editor said: “We put forward a great movie that will do well in representing South Africa and fly the flag for our cinema and the acting community. It’s a beautifully made movie that will get people to think about relationships, life and challenges that most people face. We have faith that it will represent South Africa well.’