23 August 2019

Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story (2018)

Lavender Hill resident Ellen Pakkies went to hell and back in 2007, making headlines around the world for murdering her druggie son Abie. It’s retold in the fantastically gritty, deep and poignant 2018 movie Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story, now on Showmax.

The biographical drama reveals the truth behind Ellen’s mercy killing, which she says she did not only out of her love for Abie (because he was killing himself) but to protect herself: in his tik-fuelled rage, Ellen (played by Jill Levenberg) feared her son (played by Jarrid Geduld) would rape her.

The story captivated producer Daryne Joshua (Noem My Skollie) and he got to work writing the screenplay. Fearing he wouldn’t get enough “essence” and to help Jill with her portrayal, Daryne consulted the real Ellen. Likewise, Jarrid embarked on a difficult calorie-restricted diet to lose enough weight to look like a drug addict whose body is ravaged by its only craving. Plus, Ellen allowed the production permission to film in her actual house, including the room where she murdered her son – how’s that for authenticity?

The supporting cast reads like the who’s who in SA’s soapie world: Ilse Klink (Isidingo), Clint Brink (Binnelanders), Russel Savadier (The Wild) and Amrain Ismail-Essop (Die Testament) all pop up. And local and international critics have embraced the drama with open arms: it took home trophies at the 2018 SilwerskermFees, the 2018 SAFTAs and it was selected for the Rotterdam International Film Festival and Seattle International Film Festival.

“We had our international premiere at Rotterdam and it was amazing. We sold out all three screenings over two days,” says Daryne.

You’ve been warned: The Ellen Pakkies Story is dark, tragic, traumatic and it will pull at your heartstrings.

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