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Chandani and Her Elephant – A true Story from Pinnawala

“Chandani and Her Elephant” is a documentary by German film maker Arne Brikenstock which won the best children movie award at the German Film Awards LOLA 2011. “Chandani and Her Elephant” is based on a true story about the daughter of chief mahout of Pinnawala elephant orphanage. Chandani Renuka Rathnayaka is one of four daughters of Sumana Banda who looked after the orphan elephants at Pinnawala for long thirty years. Sumana Banda represent the fourth generation of this inherited lifework which is mainly a male profession. Chandani wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a mahout. Her father does not have a son to which he could pass on the family knowledge from many generations.

Chandani, now 21 year old, is going through an emotional turmoils in her real life. Her mother is suffering from a cancer and her father has got a transfer to Dehiwala Zoo due to the death of an elephant which occurred when he was on leave. As a result Sumana Banda is now most of the time stay at home on unpaid leave. Chandani’s grand mother who was looking after the family while Chandani’s mother was getting treatment for her cancer also passed away recently.

Chandani passed the G.C.E. (O/L) examination with five “A” Passes, three “D” Passes and two “C” passes. Chandani was a bright student at Pinnawala Central College and she has got two “C” passes and a one “S” pass in A/L arts subjects.

The film is now being screened in many countries and has been nominated for many film awards. Here is the official trailer of this documentary.

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