Through a clever dramatic narrative structure, On the Other Side of Life rises above a social environment study to become a far-ranging discourse about the future of an Africa ground to pieces between tradition and modernity.

Lucky and Bongani pretend to be cool and in the know. To survive in a Cape Town township, they learned their lessons early: where to get drugs, where to get money, how to pick up girls and how to get rid of them.

“The protagonists, sympathetic yet street smart, are unforgettable.” – Christopher Gray, Boston Pheonix

Their mother does not pay much attention to them, but at least their grandmother is on their side. The two brothers share everything: the bed, the food and now even an accusation of murder.

The first thing they get in prison is an unmistakable lesson about the rules there. No questions… newcomers are at the bottom of the hierarchy. Together they must learn who may be attacked and who must be served. It’s a matter of survival. And, Once out on bail, something special awaits them – an initiation of a different kind.

The brothers move through three cultures, each of which calls for its own gestures and rituals. The deep rift between the generations becomes painfully obvious. The old people still have the sense of honour of African tradition; their successors have only a tiny chance of escaping the squalid suburbs. What will be their package in life?

“A gorgeous portrait of two young men being thrust into adulthood in a beautiful place, tempered by the harsh, violent reality of life in the Darwinian society of a slum.” – Jason Mann, Pullstart Pictures, Compass Light, Maine

“The film’s narrative thread keeps the viewer involved throughout, but it’s the full-on access here to the brothers and their unfolding story that is nothing short of miraculous.” – Paul Sturtz, director True/False Film Festival


  • Emerging Cinematic Vision Award (Winner)
    2010 Camden International Film Festival (Camden (United States))
  • FFF Documentary Award (Winner)
    2010 Munich International Documentary Film Festival (Munich, Germany)
  • Jury Award (Winner)
    2010 Milano Film Festival (Milan, Italy)
  • Starter Film Award (Winner)
    2010 Munich Film Festival (Munich, Germany)


  • Boston International Film Festival 2010 (Boston, USA)
  • Camden International Film Festival 2010 (Camden (United States))
  • Encounters: South African International Documentary Festival 2010 (Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Milano Film Festival 2010 (Milan, Italy)
  • Munich International Documentary Film Festival 2010 (Munich, Germany)
  • SXSW Film Festival 2010 (Austin, United States)
  • True/False Film Festival 2010 (Columbia, United States)
  • Liepzig DOK Festival 2009 (Liepzig, Germany)

Directed by Andy Wolff and Stefanie Brockhaus

88 minutes on 1 disc / English and Xhosa w/English sub-titles / 2010


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