The Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York and Los Angeles has selected "Elephants in the Coffee" for screening, as has the Matsalu Nature Film Festival in Estonia.
The WCFF is led by Christopher J. Gervais, an environmental and marine scientist. It screens about 80 films during the week-long event in New York City.
The Matsulu Nature Film Festival has been running for 15 years. Nearly 1000 films enter the competition each year. We are very pleased to be selected by these prestigious festivals.
As we continue to screen the documentary to a wider audience, we see a growing and disturbing conflict between elephants and humans across the coffee estates of Coorg.
Just this morning, four elephants were electrocuted near Thithimathi due to a fallen high tension power line elephants encountered as they attempted to cross over from Nagarhole National Park to the coffee plantations.
According to Karthick Krishna, biologist for Tata Coffee, these elephant have been regularly noticed at Pollibetta, Siddapura and Guyya villages of the Virajpet forest division since 2012. This herd had 18 elephants in total, out of which six have died in last 10 days due to low wire sagging in the Ammathi, Ontiangadi village area. In addition, out of the four elephants killed today, one was the matriarch that used to frequent the coffee estates. She was considered rogue in nature by the forest department and the surrounding coffee estates. Why wasn't it captured before now? The answer is not clear?
The coffee plantations adjoining the Nagarhole National Park are on the edge with both people as well as humans continually affected everyday. Watch the documentary for a larger understanding of the problem and to know how you can help in resolving this difficult problem.
What is the solution? That's a common question asked by everyone. Should India build a fence around the national park, stopping elephants from coming out of the park? Should India give reclaim part of the agricultural land and give it back to the free roaming elephants? Should we all work harder to educate the public about co-existence of man and elephant?
The resolution of this problem requires broad policy involvement and passionate engagement with local communities. People living around the coffee land have a lot at stake in conserving and protecting the species there, as well as in developing a more sustainable harvest for the greater good.
Can there be co-existence? Can elephant ever regain their reverence as gods at a time when so many humans (and elephants) are being killed in this conflict? We struggle to answer those questions, but in the struggle we hope to make progress.
The Doc Sunback Film Festival in Mulvane, Kansas, honored "Elephants in the Coffee" with its award for Best Documentary on June 24, 2017.
"Elephants" competed against more than 400 films that were entered in the competition. More than 90 were screened during the festival.
Organizers Nancy Farber-Mottola, Sheri Kaufman-Marsh and Kenny Linn did an amazing job. Along with a small group of screeners, they watched all the films that were entered (sometimes multiple times) and picked a great selection. I was extremely impressed with the quality of the entries. Many of the documentaries were very well shot and produced. I was surprised and very pleased when "Elephants" won.
Though I am hardly qualified to assess the narrative films, would like to say that Ellen Crispin's "King," the overall winner of the festival, was an outstanding work. I love its metaphorical visualization. The animation, such as the winner "The Bigger Picture" by Daisy Jacobs was extremely creative and, in this case particularly, quite moving. "What Would Beethoven Do?", the outside Kansas winner, was both stylish and thoughtful.
Austin Snell's "Dust, Blood and Fire" shows what remarkable feature-length work a small budget filmmaker can do with a lot of creativity. "Sphere Cycle" showcased a teenage filmmaker who is incredibly bright. Isaiah Marcotte the kind of student I'd like to recruit to ABAC. He has a passion for film. And the makers of "Bag Full of Trouble," Nate Jones, Roy Nugen and Gina Nugen, are so creative they can, literally, pull a story out of a bag. The audience favorite was "Mr. Lee" by IX Film Productions, a dark comedy about filmmakers.
We would like to thank everyone at Doc Sunback for the support. And we'd also like to thank our good luck charm, Bhaskar's son Srikar, who still carries the trophy around with him wherever he goes.
The Black Cat Picture Show film festival in Augusta, Georgia, has chosen "Elephants in the Coffee" as one of the films it will show on the weekend of August 18-20, 2017.
This is particularly meaningful to D.K. Bhaskar and me because we met in Augusta about 10 years ago. I was editing a newspaper, the Metro Spirit, and Bhaskar offered to his services as photographer. He was instantly the best photographer I had ever worked with, and we have worked together ever since.
The Black Cat festival will be held at Le Chat Noir, a charming venue in downtown Augusta. To all our friends in Augusta, we are very pleased to be able to show our film to you.
And if you would like to help support the film, buy a pass to the film festival and vote for "Elephants" in the viewers choice category. I have no doubt there will be many good films to choose from, however.
Last years winners included "The iMom," "The Backpage," and "Daddy Don't Go" (in documentaries).
In recent weeks, we have seen more stories about conflicts between farmers and elephants. One writer for the Guardian points out the conflicts in an area in southern India, near where we shot "Elephants in the Coffee."
Tarsh Thekaekara writes:
I grew up in a small town called Gudalur in the Nilgiri Hills, among elephants and stories about them. Elephants always fascinated me, and I’m in the middle of a PhD, trying to better understand how people and elephants share space. It’s an interest that almost grew out of necessity. The Gudalur region is about 500 square kilometres, or about one third the size of London, covered mostly by tea and coffee plantations and patches of forests. It’s home to a quarter of a million people, about 150 elephants and a host of other wild animals ranging from bears and tigers to flycatchers and martens. Every year, about a dozen people get killed in accidental encounters with elephants.
Another article in the Guardian points out that conflicts over land (think farming) are going to get worse. James Randerson writes:
According to the 2013 Elephants in the Dust report by a group of conservation NGOs, an estimated 29% of the animals’ known and possible range is heavily affected by human development. That figure is predicted to rise to 63% by 2050.
That's why CLIC Abroad, the non-profit behind "Elephants in the Coffee," is concerned with trying to find ways for elephants and humans to co-exist on the same lands. If we don't find a way, the future for elephants is indeed, and K.M. Chinappa says, bleak, indeed.
Editor and photographer Duane Regher has created a new trailer for the film, one that shows more of the drama of the documentary.
The film's next showings are in Kansas at the Doc Sunback Film Festival in Mulvane, which is just south of Wichita. D.K. Bhaskar, who resides in Lenexa, Kansas, will travel with me to the festival on June 23-24.
"Elephants in the Coffee" has also been selected by the Canadian Diversity Film Festival in Toronto. That means we have so far been selected by six film festivals, and been named a semi-finalist in a seventh.
Take a look at the new trailer. We think it will tell you why this film is worth a few minutes of your time.
Dr. Thomas Grant
Professor of Journalism at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College