The heart-wrenching story of Ellen Pakkies caught the attention of people around the globe when she was accused of murdering her drug-addicted son, Abie, in 2007. While the court case that followed kept people on the edge of their seats, the film adaptation promises to do the same, and so much more.
Ellen, the Ellen Pakkies Story, delves into the psyche of a family destroyed by drugs, in one of the most dangerous local communities, was very well received at international festivals.
The crime drama has already made quite an impact overseas – it was an official selection at the Rotterdam International Film Festival on 27 January 2018 and was also chosen to compete at the 44th Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) that took place from 17 May to 10 June 2018.
“When you watch this film, you realise that Ellen isn’t an evil, malicious person. You start to understand why she did what she did. She was a mother who loved her son but unfortunately, she couldn’t help him. All of the actors deliver incredible performances; all of your emotions will hit you all at once,” writes Film & Television Business, who gave the film a five-star-rating.
The Stranger’s Sean Nelson (SIFF Cinema Uptown & AMC Pacific Place) adds that the movie provides insight into the economic conditions that led Ellen’s son, Abie, to become addicted to Tik, as well as the hellish inequities that persist within the criminal justice system.
Not an easy film to watch, or forget,” he said.
Award-winning director, Daryne Joshua, best-known for his successful debut film Noem My Skollie, alongside producers Schalk-Willem Burger and Paulo Areal, is at the helm of this impressive project. The script was crafted by Amy Jephta, with input from Ellen Pakkies herself. Pakkies also helped recreate scenes for the movie, which was shot in her home, to ensure that they are as authentic as possible.
“We hope that an influential person will see the film and make a meaningful difference in such communities. Filming took place in Ellen’s house in Lavender Hill, where the murder happened. We went to great lengths to show audiences the real world in which Ellen lived, and where she and women like her continue to live,” says Burger.
Aside from the impressive team behind the movie, it also boasts a stellar cast – praise is streaming in from all corners for the actors’ outstanding performance.
Jill Levenberg, who has played several parts in films and on television, is brilliant in the role of Ellen Pakkies and did a lot of research to make her interpretation as honest and accurate as possible, and Jarrid Geduld, known for his roles in local and international productions such as Black Sails, Zulu, 10 000BC and A Lucky Man, plays the part of the drug-addicted Abie Pakkies.
Other talented actors which can be seen in the film include Elton Landrew, Kay Smith, Ilse Klink, Clint Brink and Russel Savadier.
The film will start showing countrywide from 7 September 2018.