Win boost to future Indian documentaries – The Indian Express

In 2017, photographer-turned-filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves was so moved by her encounter with a young elephant being raised in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve by two caretakers that she spent the next five years following this unusual family and recording their story. The resulting documentary, The Elephant Whisperers — her filmmaking debut — is a 41-minute meditation on the interspecies bonds that develop when people live close to wild animals and the seeds for ecological salvation that may lie in such relationships.
On Sunday, when the film made history by winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short, Gonsalves, in her acceptance speech said the win acknowledged “the sacred bond between us and our natural world, for the respect of indigenous communities and empathy towards other living beings (that) we share our space with and, finally for coexistence”.
In a statement issued after the win, Guneet Monga, the producer of the documentary said, “We, as two women from India, stood on that global stage, making this historical win… Today, I can say, the future for Indian cinema is audacious, the future is here and not to forget the future is truly female.”
The Oscar for The Elephant Whisperers comes on the heels of a growing international recognition for Indian documentaries, including at the Academy Awards.
In 2022, Writing with Fire by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, which followed the story of Khabar Lahariya, a media organisation run entirely by Dalit women, became the first Indian documentary to be nominated in the Oscars. This year, the same category — Best Documentary Feature — saw another Indian nomination, Shaunak Sen’s All That Breathes, which came with international laurels, including the Golden Eye award at Cannes and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
Congratulating The Elephant Whisperers team on its win Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Their work wonderfully highlights the importance of sustainable development and living in harmony with nature.”
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin too congratulated the winning team. “No better news to wake up to than two women bringing the first ever Oscar for an Indian production,” he tweeted.
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Pooja PillaiPooja Pillai is a Special Correspondent working with The Indian Expres… read more


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