16 January, 2010

Train humans, not elephants. A review of Galen Garwood's film "PANOM: Cousin to the Clouds"

Galen Garwood's film PANOM premiered here in Chiangmai last evening to rapturous applause and admiration. It deals with the nature and issues surrounding the interaction between people and elephants. And it does so in a coolly non-anthropomorphic way, nevertheless seething with depth of feeling that cannot fail to move.

The DVD will be available soon. The trailer may be viewed at

REVIEW: The Chiangmai University Art Center Theatre was packed nearly full, and the film was applauded very generously, as well it deserved. Galen's heartfelt pachydermal passions were clear to all.
The film tackled head-on the serious bottleneck facing the very survival of the Asian elephant, necessarily provoking more Questions than Answers. Now that the status of the elephant has descended to that of forestry labourer and, more recently, to that of mere tourist entertainer, where to now? In PANOM, Galen prods and suggests in his powerfully gentle way that a change in human attitude is the first step to restoring the dignity and future of these ancient and highly intelligent creatures. His film palpably affected those who watched it at its premiere last night. Many, including myself, were teary.

The DVD will be available soon at www.galengarwood.com ...you genuinely won't know whether to laugh or cry as you watch elephants literally singing along with obvious delight as Jamie Seiber performs for them so hauntingly on her electric cello. All profits will go to the Friends of the Asian Elephant hospital (FAE).
A case in point... a broken-spirited young elephant, complete with a humiliating blinking red tail-light, is taught how to beg tourists for 50-cent bananas along Huaykeaw Road, Chiangmai, not far from our apartment. Not cute:

...and a bored elephant swings its trunk for something to do
as it waits for tourists near a Mae Rim resort:

 Re-train humans, not elephants.