We reached out to our World Wildlife Day Film Showcase filmmakers to ask them five questions about the experience of making their films.
What inspired this story?
Directors Mark Deeble and Victoria Stone: The inspiration for the story was the culmination of 30 years of observation of elephants interacting with smaller animals - always tangential and never the subject of a film, but storing them away. The trigger was working with elephants in Amboseli in the terrible drought of 2009/10 when we witnessed how sentient and empathetic elephants could be in times of crisis - it made us determined to tell a matriarch’s story but against the background of the extraordinary web of life that depends on the presence of elephants for its existence.
What drove you as a filmmaker to focus on biodiversity?
MD & VS: We find the web of interconnectivity in the natural world fascinating and inspiring - it has driven every film we have ever made. That we rely on it for our survival as humans, just stimulates our natural desire to share it by telling stories - whether it be how the relationship between fig wasp and fig tree shoulders so much of the tropical natural world, or how there is a vast web of wildlife that depends on the presence of elephants for its existence. We all rely on the interconnectivity of the natural world which is what gives it its resilience - we ignore or forget that at our peril.
What impact do you hope this film will have?
MD & VS: We want the film to inspire a global audience to fall in love with elephants, to reflect on how like us they are, be amazed at their status as keystone species and then be emotionally moved to want to protect them. We know this is happening as the film has raised a huge amount of money that is being channelled into elephant conservation in Tsavo and habitat restoration outside the national park. We have been 3 years in developing an innovative and ambitious Outreach and Education plan starting in Kenya, donating the rights for a prime-time national broadcast and translating the film into Maa and Kiswahili. It will be launched as a 'National Moment' under the banner ‘Our Country, Our Elephants, Our Heritage’ with the First Lady of Kenya as guest of honour at the Kenyan premiere. We have created 28 learn-to-read books for the Kenyan Government, based on characters from the film so that children can learn to read through stories from the wild and grow up loving and caring for animals - whether it be an elephant, a bullfrog tadpole, a killifish or a dung beetle. The tiny TEQ O&E team has also produced 5 read-along books, 3 school plays, teaching guides, activity packs… plus a mobile cinema to take the film to remote rural communities that are at the forefront of human-wildlife conflict.