By Dr. Zaius
Thursday, April 26th, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story Written by Ashley Bell, John Michael McCarthy III, Fernanda Rossi
Directed by Ashley Bell
Featuring Ashley Bell, Lek Chailert, and Noi Na the Elephant
Documentary | 75 Minutes
Release date: April 27, 2018
“You don’t need a bull hook to control an elephant. You can guide an elephant with love… And bananas” – Lek Chailert, Founder of Save Elephant Foundation
You may know Ashley Bell from her roles in 2010’s The Last Exorcism or 2016’s Carnage Park, but her most important role to date by far is bringing to light the true story of Asian elephants in her new documentary Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story. The film saw a small theatrical run during Earth Day week last week and is being released in more theaters on April 27, 2018. Produced, written, directed by and starring Bell, the documentary details the awful treatment of the declining elephant populations in Southeast Asia and her attempts to help in the rescue of one particular elephant, the 70-year-old blind Noi Na.
Bell’s journey from Los Angeles actress to environmental elephant savior started a few years back with a trip to a Cambodian elephant refuge. In that section of the world, most elephants are service and labor animals, forced to drag lumber, carry tourists, and perform in circus shows. The process of “breaking” a gigantic wild animal is heart-wrenching. The elephants are separated from their families, locked in “crush boxes,” and beaten with hooks and chains until their spirits are worn down. Many elephants die from the cruel conditions, others are left permanently damaged both physically and mentally.
Bell met Lek Chailert, Asia’s leading elephant conservationist, and formed a strong bond. Lek’s story is truly one movies are made about. She left her family due to their treatment of the animals and jokes about how many times she’s been arrested. Her goal to free elephants in southeast Asia from cruel captivity earned her global acclaim in 2010 when then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton awarded her as one of six Women Heroes of Global Conservation. Together, Lek Chailert and Ashley Bell travel 500 miles throughout Thailand on a rescue mission to save a severely abused and disabled elephant named Noi Na.
This is a wonderful documentary that brings light a serious issue throughout the world. The Trump Administration has eased its stance of importing elephant trophies and the world’s largest land mammals are dwindling in numbers. Bell and Chailert develop a real and heartwarming friendship and the bonds with the elephants are extraordinary. Noi Na was on the verge of death and now she is a thriving healthy animal. This works effectively as a nature documentary and a human interest piece. I watched it with my 7-year-old daughter and she was saddened by the mistreatment of the elephants and hysterical laughing at times when the elephants were in the refuges playing and enjoying their lives.
I highly recommend checking out Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story and introducing it to your kids as well.
For more information on the movie, to find a showing near you, and to learn more about how you can help in this mission to save Asian elephants, visit the film’s official site.