Dennis Foon, from a novel by Allan Stratton, and directed with a combination of skill and schmaltz by Oliver Schmitz (shown at right, who has directed mostly for television -- and one of the fine episodes from Paris je t'aime), the movie is never less than involving as it tells the story of the young girl Chandra, played by first-time actress, Khomotso Manyaka, shown above, who gives a commanding performance. At the film's beginning, Chandra's younger sister is dying, and her mom, we soon discover, is also sick. The townspeople are suspicious about the causes.
Harriet Lenabe, above), also clearly the wealthiest (she's got a phone!), is a friend to Chandra and advises the girl as to what to say and how to phrase the reasons for the death and sickness. Chandra would be happy to simply tell the truth, but this is not allowed, and the movie soon becomes a push-and-pull tale of Chandra on one side and her relatives, the villagers and ever her own mother -- shamed into silence and secrecy -- on the other.
Sony Pictures Classics, opens Friday, July 15, in New York City at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and Film Forum, and at the Royal in West Los Angeles. Further playdates all around the country can be found by clicking here.
On a related note, if you have not yet seen the excellent and quite provocative documentary, House of Numbers by Brent Leung (my earlier review is here), which deals with AIDS in South Africa and how the incidence of poverty impacts on its diagnosis, you might want to give this worthwhile film a look.