Unspoken Souls

Logline

When Thailand’s tourism collapses, Lek, an animal rights activist, expands her circle of activism to amplify the voices of abused elephants, their ethnic minority caretakers, and dissipating forests. Her fight encapsulates the world’s struggle to build a sustainable future.

 

Synopsis 

Lek Chailert is a social entrepreneur and animal rights activist who hails from a Khamu ethnic minority village in Northern Thailand. After revealing the abuse behind Thailand’s infamous elephant rides and circus shows in the early 2000s, she created one of the first elephant sanctuaries where domesticated elephants are free from abuse and hard labor. In the last 20 years, she’s managed to spread this ethical business model to most of the industry, slowly realizing her dream.
But when Thailand’s entire tourism industry collapses and Lek is confronted with the national plight of thousands of starving elephants and unemployed mahouts (caretakers), everything changes. In a race against time, Lek and her team embark on a journey to provide food and financial assistance to isolated ethnic minority villages, where the elephants and mahouts can best survive the drought of tourism. Only to be left horrified by the arid hills, mono-crop plantations, and burnt forests that have engulfed the countryside.
In the midst of her national endeavor, Lek takes a young protégé under her wing. 22-year-old New is tasked with the transformation of his deceased father’s elephant entertainment camp into a sanctuary. He drops out of college to take care of 55 elephants, 24 employees, and a nasty inheritance dispute among four widows that his father leaves behind. With Lek’s support, he embarks on a colossal challenge to give elephants a more dignified life but in the process his life flips upside down.
As Lek continues to witness more environmental destruction, she becomes evermore convinced that she cannot protect her beloved elephants without supporting their ethnic minority owners and conserving forests they all rely on. Envisioning a new project where the elephants can live freely, their ethnic minority owners can have greater livelihood security, and the forests are conserved, Lek embarks on a new political chapter in her life that expands her scale of social change like never before. But how successful will she be?


Producer / Director - Yasuhiko Okuno & Mieko Saho
Co-Director & Script Writer - Koh Okuno
Executive producer: Ken-ichi IMAMURA
Production status: Production
Completion schedule: Mid-2024


<Pitch video> https://vimeo.com/833983900
PW: SSD0607
<Trailer> https://vimeo.com/836040309
PW: elephant