Farewell Ella Bella (2018)
You can change who you are, but you can’t change where you come from. Even when you try to run to the other side of the country like Ella Bella (Jay Anstey), who’s trying to forget about her now-dead alcoholic dad (Lionel Newton) and the things he put her through growing up after her mom (Mary-Ann Barlow) abandoned them.
This South African movie is a coming-of-age tale as Ella gets help from those who love her most, including her godfather Neo (Sello Maake Ka-Ncube) who gives her the support she needs and never got growing up. From teaching her to drive and giving her her first smoke, to letting Ella prank the BnB owner by pretending that they’re a black sugar daddy and his white trophy girlfriend, Ella gets the chance to be herself for once.
Farewell Ella Bella will make you smile when the credits roll up, but it’s heart-wrenching to get there. The pain she goes through is an echo of reality in South Africa, where so many children come from broken homes and experience abuse or pure neglect from their parents.
The Citizen’s review hits the nail on the head: “There is very little sunshine in the life of this unfortunate soul. Director and writer Lwazi Mvusi certainly captures the moments when Ella’s life seems pointless as she bravely strives to make some sense of her existence. It’s a painfully slow unravelling of her personality and patience is required. There’s a detour or two along the way.”