STARS: Ellen Pakkies, left, with actress Jill Levenberg, who portrays her in the local film Ellen, Die Storie van Ellen Pakkies, which has been selected for viewing at the 44th Annual Seattle International Film Festival, the biggest film festival in the US.
The heart-wrenching story of Lavender Hill mother Ellen Pakkies, who received national attention after killing her abusive, tik-addict son in 2007, will be screened at the largest film festival in the US, the 44th annual Seattle International Film Festival, which screens 400 films from 90 countries in 25 days and attracts 145000 viewers.

Ellen, Die Storie van Ellen Pakkies, by award-winning director Daryne Joshua, comes fresh from sold-out attendances and acclaim at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in the Netherlands.

Joshua said the idea behind the movie was to tell a personal story that would resonate with the audience. “Audiences in the Netherlands responded positively, but the US, with its history of a crystal meth epidemic, has a closer understanding of the situation. Ellen is excited and hopes the movie will help to get the reality of poverty and the uneducated into the spotlight.”

Joshua said that while recognition was always appreciated, the aim of this and his previous well-received movie, Skollie, was to show the situation on the Cape Flats to a broader audience.

He hopes the exposure and box office success will help to bring funders and the government on board to assist other black film-makers in telling authentic local stories.

Pakkies’ troubled relationship with her 20-year-old son Abie (Jarrid Geduld) is detailed unflinchingly. It delves into the psyche of a family ravaged by drugs in one of the most dangerous communities in South Africa.

Executive producer Paulo Areal said they were invited to submit their film and were accepted after showings in Europe, where it played to full houses.

“Audiences have reacted positively to our movie. Our screenings are scheduled for June 27-29, and I believe there is interest in African stories and the way film-makers on this continent approach stories,” said Areal.

He reiterated that bringing Pakkies’ story to the world was their goal, and more especially to create greater awareness of the situation affecting families on the Cape Flats.

Ellen, Die Storie van Ellen Pakkies opens in South Africa on September 7 in cinemas countrywide.