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Earl Hendricks Film Lost Hope is a Story of Finding Hope

Lost Hope short film created by Earl Hendricks & Norman Leslie as a fictionalised story of Earl’s very real lived experiences deals with male mental health issues and the trauma of childhood sexual abuse.

Imagine having the opportunity to escape and leave your unfulfilled; tumultuous; trauma-filled life behind, and start a new life in a new city and cutting all ties to your old life. Imagine that on the eve of your departure you are forced to face all of your unhealed trauma all at once culminating in an emotional super-storm.
Makes for a lot of drama right?

Yes… But that’s not all there is to this short film which Earl Hendricks has created as a fictionalised story of his very real lived experiences.

If one were forced to place Lost Hope into a specific genre, then the closest one would be a Tragicomedy Drama. It deals with very serious issues that to some may be triggering. However, those same triggers are what makes Lost Hope necessary viewing for almost everyone as it revolves around issues we all encounter in different ways either directly affecting ourselves or through knowing people whose lives are in turmoil because of such issues.

Cape Flats Tragicomedy Drama Filmed for the Big Screen with an iPhone

Born in Mitchell’s Plain and growing up in different parts of the Cape Flats including Retreat, Steenberg and Lavender Hill, actor Earl Hendricks (42) has acted in local television series that include Sarah Se Geheim, Arendsvlei, and Summertide. The actor can also be seen in the American TV series Of Kings and Prophets, and as a model Earl has been the face of international campaigns for Oral B and Emirates Airlines.

The original story written by Earl Hendricks, with screenplay written by Norman Leslie and directed by Norman Leslie was co-produced by Earl Hendricks and Norman Leslie. Amazingly the self-funded Lost Hope was filmed and produced by Norman Leslie’s production company Norky Wedding Media and Mobile DJ using only an iPhone 13.

The coproducers of Lost Hope Norman Leslie & Earl Hendricks – Image Supplied

In dramatising his own real life story Earl added a few elements and embellishments to create a fictional world with fictional characters including that of his younger brother Nigel, when in real life Earl doesn’t have a younger brother, but indeed has an older one. He also meshed bits and pieces from the lives of people close to him to create the characters and certain scenes but in essence Lost Hope revolves around Earl’s personal lived experience with mental health issues that resulted from childhood rape.

Although Earl isn’t known for playing comedy roles, his real life persona has always been one of having a tongue-in-cheek humour that works as an icebreaker in awkward situations, and sometimes he is a downright hilarious ‘gatmaker’.

That part of his personality has also translated well to the film in that there is a level of comedy in Lost Hope that does not minimise the seriousness of the issues the film deals with.

Of course the screenplay and direction by 37-year-old filmmaker Norman Leslie from Kraaifontein is what strikes a suitable balance for that combination of tragedy and comedy to work so well in telling this compelling story.

Awkward Farewell Party & The Prodigal Brother

Darryn (Earl Hendricks) is about to relocate and start a new life in a new city. On the eve of his departure his caring cousin Melissa (Meghan Atkins) organises a little surprise party with Darryn’s small circle of friends with the very annoyed Darryn not having much of a choice in the matter.

The awkward, uncomfortable dynamics between the small group of friends starts to unfold at the farewell braai at Darryn’s home in what could be any middle class suburb somewhere on the Cape Flats. Exploring the layers in the complexities of their relationships is tempered with well-timed comedy which leaves viewers with a sense of familiarity towards the characters; a sense of ‘ I know someone like that’.


The Lost Hope Cast FLTR Nadine Adams, Darryl Bock, Meghan Atkins, Norman Leslie, Leagan Phillips-Laws & Earl Hendricks – Image SuppliedDarryn is clearly not even pretending to be happy with them all being there, at least not all together at a time when he would have preferred to be wallowing alone. He barely tolerates the situation for the sake of Melissa who has a godmother demeanour towards him. She in turn lightly greases the conversation between them all when things start becoming a bit too tense.

Jonoh (Darryl Bock) who comes across as a bit of a jock masks his insecurities with a cocky attitude and by making dry awkward jokes.

Though his jokes don’t hold much humour on their own, the awkwardness of his persona makes it funny, especially when he low-key tries to one-up his best friend Gavin (Leagan Phillips-Laws).

Gavin is in a relationship with Tarryn (Nadine Adams) but he is also Darryn’s secret lover. Darryn leaving clearly takes a toll on Gavin and he attempts one more little tryst with Darryn at an already awkward and uncomfortable gathering. Meanwhile Tarryn who is having doubts about Gavin’s fidelity singles out Darryn as the person she confides in about the problems in her relationship.

Just as the tensions among them looks as if it could be coming to a boil, Darryn’s brother Nigel (Norman Leslie) hilariously crashes the party.

Nigel is the missing brother of Darryn and he’s a troubled soul. It is Nigel’s mental instability that turns out to be the main issue driving the plot.

The comic shenanigans of Nigel’s arrival soon make way for a much deeper dive into the tension and drama that erupts into tragedy.

How it all turns out is what makes Lost Hope a must-see film.

FLTR Jill Levenberg, Earl Hendricks, Glynnis Jacobs & Gerwen Weinheimer – Image Supplied

Giving Hope For Healing

The Lost Hope Short Film premiered at Labia Theatre in Cape Town on 27 March 2024 with a number of film and TV celebrities like Jill Levenberg, entertainers like Mark Lottering, media personalities and social media influencers among the guests that also included friends and family members of the cast.

When the film ended, for a second or two there was a palpable moment of silent awe; someone loudly said “Wow!”; and then the audience erupted into a standing ovation.

The screening was then followed by a Q&A session with Host MC Claude Morris asking some very pertinent questions from Earl and the rest of the cast and then opening up the floor for a few questions from the audience.

What emerged from the Q&A session, which felt like a therapeutic debrief, is that Lost Hope was not only about sharing pain and about the need for society at large to change our attitude towards dealing with men’s mental health issues, but it is also about Giving Hope for Healing.

FLTR Nadine Adams, Earl Hendricks & Darryl Bock enjoying a humourous moment during the Lost Hope Q&A session - Image Supplied

One of the highest forms of art is when someone takes their own pain; their own experience of having Lost Hope and they express it in such a way that it will Give Hope to others who are going through, or who know someone who’s going through something they can relate to in that artwork.

Even more so if that artwork ends up giving them new hope.

Earl Hendricks and the cast of Lost Hope did exactly that. Their beautiful work of art is holding up a mirror to our society and unmasking how we treat men’s mental health issues and it is making us look through new lenses at how we deal with some of its underlying causes.

Creating Spaces for Men’s Mental Health Issues

Speaking to Gender Based Violence Activist Celesthea Pierang at the premiere, we were in accord that there are not enough resources or spaces dealing with the male victims of sexual violence or with male mental health issues in general. “This film creates an opportunity for workshops and discussions around these issues and we need to find spaces for this to be shown to people in our communities.”

That is indeed what Earl Hendricks says his goal and vision is in terms of what impact the film should have.

“Our objective is to foster crucial dialogue about these sensitive issues within our Coloured community. Raising awareness is key to finding solutions that leads to healing.”

“We’d like to partner with organisations dedicated to addressing the themes highlighted in Lost Hope, including men’s mental health issues and GBV, particularly from the perspective of Coloured males.”

WATCH the Lost Hope Trailer


Some may think of it as hubris for a filmmaker to intimate their own personal life story through film. Few filmmakers ever do, as it is often the most difficult story to tell. For most films based on a true story, whether it is a full length feature or a short story, the writer, the producer, the lead actor and the protagonist on whose life it is based, are almost always all separate people.
It all being done by the person whose life it is based on is seldom seen, as it seldom works.
Earl Hendricks and the Lost Hope team have made it work.

As at the time of writing, Lost Hope has a public screening coming up at The Wave Theatre at 44 Long Street Cape Town on Sunday 5 May 2024 at 3:30pm.
Book Tickets to watch Lost Hope at The Wave

We will share where future screening will take place on our social media pages.

What do you think?

Written by Ryan Swano

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