The 2018 Toronto International Film Festival is now in full swing – running until Sept. 16 – and will be the home to many world premieres, including that of Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble’s feature-length, natural history documentary The Elephant Queen. But ahead of the screening, realscreen presents an exclusive clip of the 96-minute film.
Narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, the character-driven project chronicles the life of Athena, an elephant matriarch as she leads her herd in search of a new place to call home when they’re forced to leave their savannah and woodland seasonal waterholes.
“We filmed through an era of devastating poaching – elephants that we knew and loved were killed, sometimes less than a mile from our camp – yet we were filming a ‘cinematic love letter’ to the species in the belief that an emotional story would cause people to fall in love with elephants, and make them care,” Deeble tells realscreen.
Filmed over a four-year period, The Elephant Queen follows the elephants of the herd as they navigate the various challenges brought about by drought, and the decisions behind whether to depart their waterhole out into the badlands in search of food and water, knowing that the smallest elephants may not be strong enough to complete the journey.
“We are losing elephants at the rate of 25,000 a year, which is faster than the rate at which they can reproduce. They are heading towards extinction – if not in our lifetime then in that of our children or grandchildren,” Deeble continues. “We wanted to make a film that makes people fall in love with elephants, for them to realize just how like us they are, and how that, without them, the world would be a much poorer place.”
The film is produced by Victoria Stone and Lucinda Englehart. Executive producers are Alan Root, Sara & Nick Williams. Co-executive Producers are Anders Holch Povlsen & Anne Storm Holch Povlsen, Sam Pattullo, and Tim Owens.
- The Elephant Queen has its world premiere in 4K at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 12:45 p.m. ET.