It’s not every day that you come across someone who is over a century old. A new documentary highlights 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 courageous South African Holocaust survivor as she shares her incredible journey and unwavering love of life.
Ella has reclaimed her life despite having survived one of history’s darkest systematic genocides during World War II, and she inspires others with her tenacity and bubbly personality. As one of the last survivors in South Africa, her message of love and tolerance is more relevant than ever in a world still plagued by xenophobia and discrimination.
Ella Blumenthal (now 101) is introduced in I Am Here at her 98th birthday celebration, where she opens up to close friends and family about her survival journey in a way she has never done before. Ella’s vibrant day-to-day life is juxtaposed with stories of her survival in this documentary. These memories are depicted in dynamic 2D animation, bringing her storytelling to life and resonating with audiences of all ages.
Ella remembers bearing witness to the death of her family, being imprisoned in three concentration camps, and narrowly escaping death in a gas chamber. She is, however, not your typical nonagenarian. This grandmother has a joie de vivre, a zest for life like no other, which is surprising given her traumatic past. Ella embodies a strong-willed, unwavering woman who will go to any length to live life to the fullest and cherish every single moment.
Ella captures attention and lights up the screen by never being afraid to express herself, to joke around, or to spontaneously speak about extremely dark moments in her past. This has resulted in the film connecting with audiences all over the world, and it has already won numerous awards. I Am Here recently won three prestigious Golden Horns at the South African Film and Television Awards, including Best Documentary, Best Achievement in Editing, and Best Achievement in Cinematography. This documentary has won numerous awards. During its extensive film festival run, I Am Here won Best South African Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival, as well as four Audience Choice Awards and two Awards for Best Director.
“Ella’s feisty, upbeat personality makes her a fantastic raconteur and wonderful character to follow in this film,” said Gravel Road Distribution Group CEO Benjamin Cowley. “I Am Here” not only sheds light on her extraordinary life, but also pays homage to the power of the human spirit. Her vibrant personality and upbeat outlook on life are truly inspiring,” he added.
Jordy Sank directed I Am Here, which was produced by Gabriella Blumberg and was funded by The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.