Title   Cast   Director   Year Shown  Other Info    Country  Notes 

Canada / India, 1998, 97 min

Shown in 1999


Philippe Gautier
Rock Demers
Prajna Chowta, Philippe Gautier
Ivan Gekoff
Myriam Poirier
Jamedar Sabu Saab, Kawadi Makbul, Noorullah, Pyare Jan


Distribution La Fete, 387 Saint-Paul West, Montreal, H2Y 2A7 Canada. FAX: 514-848-0064


Skyy Prize contender.

An elephant emerges ghost-like from dense fog and sways across the frame, the mahout (or trainer) on its back at one with his mount. The opening shot of Philippe Gautier’s lyrical first feature suggests both the intimate relationship between the men and their elephants and the disappearance of working elephants from the dwindling forests of southern India. Hathi tells its fact-based story using nonprofessionals, little dialogue and a narrative pace that matches the rhythms of village and forest life. At the age of 14, Makbul learns a mahout’s skills from his father; when his father dies, Makbul takes his place with Vikrama, the elephant he has raised from birth. But after ten years of working together they are forced to separate. Makbul's journey north with his elephant comes to an end that leaves them both facing an uncertain future. Hathi offers many sensuous visual delights: elephants being washed in the river; Makbul taking water from a bucket, his arm, in silhouette, resembling an elephant's trunk; the elephants and their riders rolling through a green-leaved, sun-laced forest. Most memorable, however, is the feeling Hathi gives us of the mahout’s way of life and of the powerful, intelligent and gentle animals at its center.

—Sidney J.P. Hollister