Naledi: A Baby Elephant's Tale | 2016 Seattle International Film Festival
USA | 2016 | 90 minutes | Ben Bowie, Geoff Luck
More than a nature documentary, this tale of an orphaned baby elephant growing up in a Botswana rescue camp who does everything she can to survive against the odds is loaded with edge-of-your-seat moments, eye-opening information, and adorable animal footage.
After nearly two years of pregnancy, Kiti, an 18-year-old elephant living at a Botswana elephant rescue camp, is about to give birth. A film crew gathers to witness the rarely filmed event, and when the calf is finally born under the dazzling night sky, she's named Naledi—the South African word for star. The Abu Camp takes care of several elephants in a natural setting, with the intent of reintroducing them back into the wild when, and if, they're ready. The herd is hit with tragedy when Kiti suddenly passes from intestinal problems, leaving one-month-old Naledi an orphan. In order to feed and survive in these first crucial months, the baby elephant is separated from her family and must now depend on her two human guardians to guide her. Balancing intensely dramatic moments with goofy scenes of elephants playing around, and infused with captivating shots of the African savanna, Naledi is more than just another nature documentary. The film really fleshes out the unique personalities of these fantastic creatures, and the specific emotional journey of Naledi the orphaned calf serves as an emblem of the violent fight for survival the rest of Africa's wilting population of elephants face.
Ben Bowie is a writer and director who has conceived and created programming for PBS, National Geographic, and the BBC. He co-wrote the 2014 documentary feature Hawking, which was featured at SXSW.
Geoff Luck graduated with degrees in filmmaking from Harvard and the San Francisco Art Institute. He has directed, shot, and produced content for National Geographic Television, PBS, Discovery, and the Sundance Channel. He currently resides in Amsterdam.
Sponsored by Brotherton Cadillac Buick GMC, Vulcan Productions, The Seattle Times
Director: Ben Bowie, Geoff Luck
Premier Status: World Premiere