The Elephant Whisperers director Kartiki Gonsalves responded to a report claiming the indigenous couple in the Oscar-winning documentary had not yet watched the film. The Elephant Whisperers, based on orphaned elephant calves in the care of Bomman and Bellie, who live in Mudumalai National Park, won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject on Monday. On Tuesday, Kartiki Gonsalves replied to a tweet on the news report, writing: “I’d like to address that Bomman and Bellie were the very first people to watch the documentary at a special viewing by me. They live in the core area of the forest and do not have access to streaming channels.” Read her tweet here.
In the report, carried by Hindustan Times, Mahout Bomman said that he has been busy caring for elephants and has not found the time yet to watch the documentary. “I still do not know anything about this [Oscar]. But I understand that it is very important because everyone has been telling me that this earned India much glory. So that means a lot to us,” Hindustan Times quoted Mahout Bomman as saying.
Meanwhile, Kartiki Gonsalves in her winning speech dedicated the award to the “motherland”. She said, “I stand here today to speak on the sacred bond between us and our natural world. For the respect of indigenous communities. For entity towards other living beings, we share our space with. And finally for co-existence. Thank you to the academy for recognizing our film highlighting indigenous people and animals. To Netflix for believing in the power of this film. To Guneet my Producer and my entire team and finally, to my mother father and sister who are up there somewhere, you’re the centre of my universe. To my motherland India.”
Other documentaries that were nominated in the same category were Haulout, How Do You Measure A Year?, The Martha Mitchell Effect and Stranger At The Gate.