Elephant Keeper is the story of an elder indigenous mahout who is adjusting to a new job in ecotourism in the remote jungles of Xayaboury Province, Laos. Elephant keepers, known as mahouts in: “The Land of a Million Elephants”, have historically played a significant role in caring for the sacred species and passing centuries-old teachings down in an oral tradition that is disappearing as the Lao elephant rapidly approaches extinction.
Senior mahout, Mr. Tong, arrives at the Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) in search of work to support his family, and is paired with Mae Dok, the Center’s sweet and stubborn 60-year-old elephant matriarch. As he adapts to a new routine away from home, Mr. Tong finds a confidant in his elephant charge, and befriends roommate, Ken the guide, and their beloved next-door neighbor,
Noy, the orphaned wild baby elephant. Tong is partially sighted, and faces blindness as he
endeavors to share his ancestral wisdom with the young mahouts and staff before it’s too late.
A rare and intimate experimental portrait piece, guided by Mr. Tong’s personal and reflective
story and song, cinéma vérité footage is supplemented by context-rich interviews, and Lao-inspired shadow puppetry and music. The immersive contemplative nature of the cinematography allows the audience to feel present within the action and story in a complex narrative rich with visual metaphor and symbolism, exploring themes of Extinction & Conservation, Industrialization & Globalization, and Culture & Identity.
The WCFF mission is to inform, engage and inspire wildlife conservation through the power of film and media. | Due to the continued closure of movie theaters in New York City and Los Angeles the 10th annual WCFF will be virtual. October 1-November 8 with over 250 documentary films and daily Live Chats with international filmmakers scientists, conservationists | WCFF returns to New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Monterrey, Mexico with live audience events.
Tickets on sale September 7. Festival Pass is $12 for unlimited 24/7 access, October 1 – November 8. Watch on your TV, Android phone/tablet, Computer/Laptop, on Apple TV with your IPhone.