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Press Release
Creative Team


Chanda’s Secrets – Overview

HIV/AIDS is a story without borders; is a global story, it is a universal concern, in which Canada and Canadians share a huge interest and involvement. Canada has positioned itself at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic through its work at the U.N. and the G8, its financial commitments, and in its negotiations with multinational drug corporations. Canadian Stephen Lewis, former United Nations Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, has been a world leader in raising awareness and action around the pandemic.

Chanda’s Secrets is one part of the Canadian effort to raise awareness to this compelling human story and it is our hope that Chanda's Secrets (which puts a human face to the pandemic) will do for AIDS what  “An Inconvenient Truth” did for the global warming.

A character driven drama, Chanda’s Secrets is not a film about blame, it is a film about telling the truth, a film about friendship, loyalty and surviving, but mainly this is the story of an innocent and relatively happy child forced by the cruel reality of her life to transform in front of our eyes into an adult facing the toughest decisions of life, before her time. It is a movie about hope in a world where hope is missing.

“CHANDA’S SECRETS hits home with its harsh truths, its pain and its hard-won hopefulness. No-one can read CHANDA’S SECRETS and remain untouched by the young people who are caught in the AIDS pandemic and still battling to make sense of their lives.”

Winner of the ALA’s prestigious Michael L. Printz Award and the Africana Book Award, as well as dozens of other major honors, translated into over ten languages, Chanda’s Secrets is a remarkable international triumph.

Chanda’s Secrets – The Story in Brief

Chanda, 16, is a smart and determined South African girl on track to win a scholarship – but she’s suddenly thrust into an impossible situation, forcing her to adopt maturity beyond her years.  When we first meet her, she’s making funeral arrangements for her year-old sister, Sara.  If people begin to suspect Sara’s death was due to more than a passing flu, Chanda will be faced with shame and stigma, not only for the victim, but also for their entire family. 

When Lilian’s (Chanda’s mother) illness becomes impossible to hide, their nosy, eccentric next-door neighbor, Mrs. Tafa, engages a spirit doctor to perform a startling ritual. The spirit doctor determines that a curse is hanging over her and her children. In order to lift it, Lilian must return to the village from where she was banished decades before, leaving Chanda alone to care for her siblings.

Meanwhile, Chanda’s best friend, Esther, has turned to prostitution in a desperate attempt to survive and reunite her own family. Though the community shuns Esther, Chanda refuses to reject her friend.  To the horror of those around her, Chanda opens her house to Esther at her friend’s moment of greatest need.  That’s just the beginning of Chanda’s fight against convention.

When Chanda discovers that her mother may have gone away to die in order to spare her children shame, she ignores the cautions of the meddling Mrs. Tafa, and embarks on a fateful journey to bring her mother home. And in doing so, challenges the people around her to reject their prejudices and embrace the truth.

Chanda’s Secrets is an unforgettable story about the corrosive nature of secrets and the healing power of truth.  But above all it is a celebration of the enduring strength of loyalty, friendship and family ties.