How We Live is an intimate observation of the lives of three Capetonian families from different income groups who live and work in Cape Town.

Each family is made up of people who love and care for each other. Each main character faces personal challenges within specific interpersonal, financial and geographical contexts.

Monwa is grappling with the loss of his wife, but can’t afford the gravestone he needs to put her memory to rest. Kelly and Janine want children but both women work long, tough, unpredictable hours. Derek and Liezel go to extremely expensive measures to feel happy and connected.

Watching each family allows the viewer to reflect on what really makes a happy life, and what this costs.


How We Live fits somewhere between Paul Almond’s “Up Series” and “Babies”, by Thomas Balmès. Instead of following children and babies, the project follows an adult (or adult couple) within a loving family setting.

Possible formats include feature length documentary, and/or a series of short vignettes.

We focus on Cape Town because we live here, and also because the city’s persistent inequality – which still mirrors racial inequality in South Africa – makes a striking context within which to explore the project’s themes.

Should the opportunity arise, we would love to expand our project to include other cities in South Africa and/or the world.



Inequality; space, family and social dynamics.


Each family is unique:

  • Monwa: Working class widower, father of four
  • Janine & Kelly: Middle-upper class engaged couple with beloved dog, no children (yet)
  • Derek & Liezel: Wealthy married couple, children from previous marriages


Each story is a love story with an antagonistic emotion:

  • Monwa: Loss
  • Janine & Kelly: Resentment
  • Derek & Liezel: Escape



  • GLOW – Global Living Organisational Wage
  • University of Cape Town – Organisational Psychology
  • Massey University, Auckland – Industrial and Organisational Psychology

Our partners are excited to use the How We Live film(s) to ignite conversation about what people need to earn to lead dignified, happy, meaningful lives. Their research question is:

Is there a global living wage that enables people, organizations, and communities to prosper and thrive?


Learn more about GLOW here.