It was already big news for YA author Allan Stratton when his 2004 novel Chanda’s Secrets, which tells the story of a 16-year-old girl growing up in sub-Saharan Africa during the AIDS pandemic, was adapted into a movie by German director Oliver Schmitz late last year. Now, the film “ called Life Above All “ has been made an official selection at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, where it will compete in the ˜Un Certain Regard’ category, which rewards innovative works by young filmmakers.
I am, like, dancing on air, Stratton wrote on his blog when he heard the news. Schmitz, the director, is an expatriate South African, and the entire cast of the film comprises native African actors, including locals who were used as extras. Stratton writes that even the role of Mrs. Gulubane, the spirit doctor in the book, is played by a real spirit doctor.
In fact, in real life, Chanda lives at the end of the road, which is part of what makes the interactions of the child actors and the extras so utterly human and believable. And it’s a main reason why [the actors who play] Chanda, Iris, Soly and Esther are so perfect: They never ˜act.’ They simply are “ always real and in the moment.