South Africa | 2017 | 123 minutes | Daryne Joshua

Ellen Pakkies' gripping true story comes to life in this South African biopic about her son's drug addiction and the drastic measures she took in order to survive his meth-fueled abuse.

Ellen enshrines the true story of Ellen Pakkies, a loving mother brought to commit an unspeakable act upon her son by the forces of addiction. When her doting son Abie, already facing behavioral issues in school, finds out he was conceived through rape, all hopes of a peaceful life are shattered. Desperate to find belonging, Abie becomes addicted to crystal meth as it ravaged the low-income communities around him in Cape Town, South Africa. All that was good in Ellen's son slowly erodes as he becomes a mere husk of himself, doing whatever it takes to score the next hit, and often by violent means. Eventually curtains are burned, money is stolen, and blood is spilled between mother and child. Daryne Joushua's second feature film conjoins two timelines, following Ellen post-incarceration and trial, as well as her son's burgeoning meth addiction that would ultimately force her breaking point. Ellen Pakkies' emotionally imposing tale lives and breathes through visceral performances from the principal cast. How far must a mother go to protect her child before protecting herself? When the system fails its people, particularly those of a certain skin tone and economic disposition, what avenues are left?

Director Biography
From his start in storytelling through making comics at the age of seven, Daryne Joshua of Cape Town has drawn upon a vast array of expertise to establish himself as a rising young talent. His first feature film, Call Me Thief (2016), was submitted as South Africa's entry for the Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film. Joshua also serves as Head of Film for Cape Town-based Gambit Films.

Sponsored by African Studies Program at UW

  • Director: Daryne Joshua
  • Principal Cast: Jill Levenberg, Jarrid Geduld, Elton Landrew, Clint Brink, Amrain Ismail-Essop
  • Premiere Status: North American
  • Country: South Africa
  • Year: 2017
  • Running Time: 123 minutes
  • Producer: Schalk Willem Burger, Paulo Areal
  • Screenplay: Amy Japtha
  • Cinematographers: Zenn van Zyl
  • Editors: C.A van Aswegen
  • Music: Quinn Lubbe
  • Filmography: Noem My Skollie: Call Me Thief (2016)
  • Language: Afrikaans, English
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP