It’s not every day you meet someone who is more than a century old. Now, a new film showcases the extraordinary life of South African Ella Blumenthal whose magnetic personality makes her past even more surprising. The feature documentary I Am Here follows this spirited South African Holocaust survivor as she reveals her astonishing journey and unwavering appreciation of life. 

Despite surviving one of history’s darkest systematic genocides during World War II, Ella has reclaimed her life and inspires others with her tenacity and bubbly personality. As one of the last remaining survivors in South Africa, her message of love and tolerance could not be more relevant in a world still plagued with xenophobia and discrimination. 

In I Am Here, we meet Ella Blumenthal (now 101) at her 98th birthday celebration, where she opens up to close friends and family about her journey of survival, in a way she has never done before. This documentary contrasts Ella’s vibrant day-to-day life with stories of her survival. These memories are depicted through dynamic 2D animation, innovatively bringing her storytelling to life and resonating with audiences across generations.

Ella recalls bearing witness to losing her family, being a prisoner of three concentration camps, and narrowly escaping death in a gas chamber. However, she is not your average nonagenarian. This grandmother has joie de vivre, a zest for life, like no other, a characteristic that is unexpected, given her traumatic past. Ella perfectly encapsulates a strong willed, unwavering woman, who will stop at nothing to live life to the fullest and cherish every single moment. 

Never afraid to express her mind, to joke around or to spontaneously speak about extremely dark moments from her past, Ella captures attention and lights up the screen. This has led to the film connecting with audiences around the world, with multiple awards already secured.  Most recently I Am Here, won three prestigious Golden Horns at the South African Film and Television Awards for Best Documentary, Best Achievement in Editing and Best Achievement in Cinematography. This documentary is no stranger to winning awards. I Am Here won Best South African Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival and has received four Audience Choice Awards and two Awards for Best Director during its extensive film festival run.  

“Ella’s feisty, upbeat personality makes her a fantastic raconteur and wonderful character to follow in this film” said Benjamin Cowley, CEO Gravel Road Distribution Group. “I Am Here not only shines a light on her remarkable life, but also pays tribute to the power of the human spirit. Her vivacious personality and her positive outlook on life is truly inspiring,” he added. 

I Am Here was directed by Jordy Sank, produced by Gabriella Blumberg and was supported by a grant from The Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

View the trailer for I Am Here here.

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