Award of Excellence – “Elephant in the Room” (India)

Title: Elephant in the Room
Runtime: 10 min
Country: India
Director: Nila Madhab Panda
Placement: Award of Excellence
Competition: March, 2023

Synopsis: “Elephant in the Room” , is an attempt to highlight the severity of the man-animal conflict, and to present a real life case that the world should feel proud of and emulate.

The film is set in a small village called Sankarapally, along the banks of a river in Wayanad district of Kerala. Thamara, a young mother in her early thirties, is 7-months pregnant with her second child. Their family, residents of Sankarapally, is engaging in some light hearted festivities, in welcoming the second child. There, Kanni, Thamara’s first born, a lively 9-year old, is having fun with her friends, when suddenly they come across the viral news clipping of the elephant dying of the pineapple bomb. Kanni is deeply impacted by it, and questions her Mother, that when she is so well looked after during her pregnancy, why aren’t the elephants given similar love and affection.

To satiate Kanni, Thamara narrates her a true story, of their own village, which migrated from their ancestral village Pulayankolly, to Chekkadi, around a decade back, putting an end to their perennial ‘Elephant Problem’. The tale interweaves the multiagency effort of the Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department, Wildlife Trust of India, with the support of the UK-based charity Elephant Family. It’s the story of such a unique but lesser known phenomenon, where all around collaboration along with the local administration, hand in hand with the residents of Pulayankolly village, could resolve such a sensitive but dangerous problem that ails the entire world today.

Kanni is amazed with the story, and even more delighted, when she realizes that it is none other than her own village which had left their ancestral lands for the sake of the pachyderms, which is a great example of how elephants and humans can live alongside each other peacefully