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Elephants in Motion: Tales of Life Transformation

Elephants in Motion: Tales of Life Transformation opens with the stories of orphaned baby elephants living at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center (TECC) due to the loss of their mothers and habitats. They discover ways to cope with trauma while living with their adopted mother elephants at the nursery, and learn to communicate with their human “mahouts”, or lifetime trainers/companions. As they mature, these young elephants enter the mahout training school, where they learn the arts of logging and painting to develop both dexterity and emotional intelligence.

The film goes on to chronicle the experiences of adult “working” elephants and their mahouts, dragging logs in the teakwood forests of the north and the rubber plantations of the south. An in-depth look is taken at the fifty year bond between newly retired logging elephant Boonpradap and her mahout, Uncle Sui, who takes his ailing elephant to the TECC hospital, where she is diagnosed with liver failure due to consumption of contaminated water (pesticides). Uncle Sui is heartbroken when Boonpradap dies in his presence, but an important lesson is learned about sustainability and the true nature of conservation.

Aging and illness is explored at the Pang La Sanctuary, a home for retired logging elephants who are elderly, injured, or emotionally unstable. We also tell the stories of early retired and captive, or confiscated, elephants who live at TECC and work in ecotourism, assisted by an international team of volunteer mahouts.

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A film Narumol Bartone

Directed by Narumol Bartone

Produced by Steven Speilberg

Photography by Janjsh Kaminsky

Associate Producer Francis Ford Copola

Special thank to the Elephants of Thailand

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    Director’s Prior Work