Yesterday, thanks to a Friend With Connections, I got to see a preview of a new film based on a YA novel.  The book is called Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton.  The movie based on that book is called Life, Above All.  And both of them brought me to tears.  To be fair, even the movie trailer made me emotional, so clearly this was a story that pulled at my heartstrings.

The story opens with an African teenager named Chanda arranging for her baby sister’s funeral.  As the story progresses, we learn more about Chanda — that she’s an excellent student, that she can read English, that she is fiercely loyal to her friends and family, and that she is used to taking on grownup responsibilities.  We also learn more about the world she lives in — that a lot of people have died in this area lately, that people don’t want to use the word “AIDS,” preferring instead to use phrases like, “the bug” or “the other thing,” that the villagers believe in both religion and superstitions, and that fear and rumors spread like wildfire and can be more damaging than any disease.  It is this last point — the opinions of other people, and how Chanda has to face the consequences of those opinions — that is the underlying theme of the entire story.

This made some graffiti that I spotted in the 59th Street subway station on the way home seem especially appropriate.  I saw this written on an elevator, stopped in my tracks, stared at it for a moment, and then realized that since I had my iPod with me I could document it:

I took a picture of it because it was both startling and yet strangely appropriate to see it written in a subway station, because I love that quote, and because it’s from one of my favorite plays.  It wasn’t until this morning that it occurred to me that “Hell is other people” could also have been a subtitle for Chanda’s Secrets.

Here’s the trailer for Life, Above All which first made me misty-eyed.  The movie is officially opening on July 15th in New York and Los Angeles, and then expanding to other cities after that.  If you get a chance to see this film (and don’t mind the possibility of having a good cry), I highly recommend that you seek out this film when it comes to your city.  In the meantime, you can catch up with the book, as well.

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