Films: One Lucky Elephant

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One Lucky Elephant

One Lucky Elephant

USA, 2010, 82 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Animals, Biographical, Documentary, Environmental, Family Friendly
Program: Documentary Films
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Lisa Leeman
Producer: Cristina Colissimo, Miriam Cutler, Lizzie Friedman, Jordana Glick-Franzheim, Greg Little
Editor: Kate Amend, Tchavdar Georgiev
Screenwriter: Cristina Colissimo
Cinematographer: Sandra Chandler, Shana Hagan
Principal Cast: 

Circus owner David Balding always wanted an elephant, as far back as he can remember; his wish was fulfilled in the 1980s, when he adopted an orphaned baby African elephant he named Flora. She became the centerpiece of his small performing troupe: clowns rode her; jugglers tossed her pins; acrobats vaulted over her back. Meanwhile, Balding cultivated a close relationship with Flora and the two became inseparable. But over the course of 16 years, she lost her taste for performing and, as she made her unhappiness known to her companion, he began exploring alternative habitats for her. Of course, his well-intentioned decision to find Flora a new home among members of her own species could only have complicated ramifications for both of them.

Featuring interviews with wildlife experts and trainers who challenge his denial that Flora has problems with aggression, this fascinating documentary—10 years in the making—chronicles Balding’s efforts to confront the poignant fact that Flora never belonged in the human world but now faces major challenges in joining that of her own species. Little by little, director Lisa Leeman fleshes out the complex relationship between these two beings—tracing the story from Flora’s arrival from Africa, where her family had been slaughtered, through her career to Balding’s touching struggle to do right by her.
—Val Moses

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