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Ellen Pakkies, the remarkable woman whose story the film Ellen, the Story of Ellen Pakkies is based on, has been on everyone’s lips for a long time. Not only because of the unfortunate incident that took place in 2007 and made headlines across the world, but also because of her dream to make a difference in her community.
During her first exclusive radio interview about the movie, with Rian van Heerden on Jacaranda FM’s The Scenic Drive with Rian on 27 June 2018, she opened up about the special project she launched in an attempt to uplift and revive poverty-stricken communities in the Cape Flats, like Lavender Hill where she is from. According to her, there are many women living in the depths of despair; women whose homes are loveless, empty shells that have become dreary and derelict, as a result of ongoing drug abuse in the area.
Clearly thankful and emotional about this huge contribution, Ellen revealed that it was the film about her life that inspired the idea for the project in the first place. After filming was finalised, the production team had her home painted and renovated. Using the paint left over from her house, she gave houses and other buildings in her area that were in desperate need, a fresh new coat. She then realised the impact a renovation project such as this could have on her community.
“In this way we can also involve young people, who don’t always know where to look for work. It can help motivate them and help them stay out of trouble,” she explains. “It can also help mothers to again love the place where they live, because although their love for their families are ever-present, kids manage to rob them of everything else when they get caught in a web of drugs. A little colour and a clean house can have a huge impact on a heavy heart. Paint plays an important role when it comes to household items, because it can so easily make everything look new, making everyone feel good in the process.”
The other need is, of course, to replace the basic items that have been looted, so that households can function normally again. Even items such as stoves and cutlery are stolen; what is left behind is often broken and useless. New or second-hand furniture contributions are, therefore, also very welcome.
Anyone can participate in this project. A few tins of paint and some of those, seemingly useless, items from your storeroom, may not be of great value to you, but it can literally change a community.
Ellen, the Story of Ellen Pakkies is the true story of the stormy relationship between a mother (Jill Levenberg) and her drug-addict son, Abie (Jarrid Geduld), resulting in his death as well as a court case. The film delves into the inner psyche of a family ravaged by drugs in one of the most dangerous communities in South Africa. A scourge that extends beyond the Cape Flats and highlights a systematic failure to protect the poorest of the poor.
This gripping crime drama, by acclaimed director Daryne Joshua (Noem My Skollie), is already a hit with overseas audiences and was showcased at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, as well as the 44th annual Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) in the USA. It will be released in local cinemas on 7 September 2018, was produced in collaboration with M-Net, kykNET Films, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and The Moving Billboard Picture Company and will be distributed by Filmfinity (Pty) Ltd.