Ellen Pakkies with actress Jill Levenberg, who portrays her in the local film Ellen, Die Storie Van Ellen Pakkies. Picture: Supplied

The critically acclaimed drama of Ellen Pakkies’ life, "Ellen, The Ellen Pakkies Story", which captured the hearts of audiences across the globe, was honoured with four big awards at the thirteenth annual South African Film and Television Awards at Sun City this past weekend. 

Jill Levenberg ("Genadekans," "Noem My Skollie," "Suidooster"), who plays the role of Ellen – a mother that killed her drug-addicted son out of sheer desperation, won Best Actress, and Jarrid Geduld ("A Lucky Man," "A Boy Called Twist," "Black Sails"), who stars as the troubled Abie Pakkies, was awarded Best Actor for his efforts.

Speaking to the Daily Voice, Jarrid said: "Eventually when our category came up, it was butterflies, nerves, sweaty palms.

"I really felt a sense of accomplishment when my name was called. It’s been 17 years and to see my dream come true means the world to me. Cape Town... This is for us!"

Acclaimed director Daryne Joshua, who also won Best Director said: "I don’t think we made this film with the intention of winning any awards. But now that it has been recognised with four SAFTA Awards, it provides extra exposure and helps focus the attention back on the importance of Ellen Pakkies’s story. And for this, we are overwhelmed and extremely grateful."

Quinn Lubbe received a SAFTA statue for Best Achievement in Original Music/ Score - Feature Film. Jean Niemandt was also nominated for Best Achievement in Sound Design – Feature Film.

The film, which delves into the inner psyche of a family ravaged by drugs in one of the most dangerous communities in South Africa, also stars well-known actors like Clint Brink ("Binnelanders"), Ilse Klink ("Stroomop," "Isidingo"), Elton Landrew ("Suidooster," "Dryfsand") and Russel Savadier ("The Wild," "Isidingo," "Black Sails").

Other big winners of the night include, the Mzansi Magic 1 telenovela, "The River" that came out tops with 11 awards, including the Best Telenovela award and Best by public vote, dethroning "Isibaya".

Motshidi Motshegwa was crowned Best Actress - Telenovela her role as Malefu, while rising star Lawrence Maleka scooped Best Supporting Actor - Telenovela, both for The River.

Taking home four gongs each was "Isithembiso" and "Lockdown," with Lorcia Cooper winning the coveted Best Supporting Actress in a TV drama award. 

The prison drama "Lockdown" won for Best TV Drama and "Sew the Winter to My Skin" won Best Feature Film.

Actors Khotso Nkhatho and Simon Bruiners were honoured with Lifetime Achievement awards.