Oscars 2023: Indian film The Elephant Whisperers wins Academy Award for Best Documentary Short


Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga’s Netflix documentary short, The Elephant Whisperers, has won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short category at the 95th Academy Awards.

The film was competing against Haulout, How Do You Measure a Year?, The Martha Mitchell Effect and Stranger At The Gate. Director Gonzalves dedicated the award to ‘my motherland, India’. Guneet, in an Instagram post, wrote, “Tonight is historic as this is the first ever Oscar for an Indian production…”

Produced by Achin Jain and Guneet Monga, and directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, the 41-minute short follows the family from Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai Tiger Reserve who end up adopting two orphan baby elephants. What was special about this India short was that it happened to be filmmaker Gonsalves’ directorial debut. Earlier, speaking to The Indian Express, Gonsalves had shared a little about the making of the short and said, “I followed Raghu’s story for five years, and had about 450 hours of footage. There are thousands of Raghu baths in there, so many hours of him eating food or playing. But you need to be patient (with something like this), and you get scenes like the one where Bellie tells Ammu to sit down next to her. These are intimate moments, which cannot be planned.”

Kartiki had spoken to Deadline as well about the love that had come her way post the short’s release, and said, “I’ve got a lot of feedback saying that it portrays the dignity of both the magnificent elephants and the Indigenous people who’ve lived with them and shared with them for centuries.”

India had scored a total of three Oscar nominations at this year’s Oscars — For Best Original Song (RRR song “Naatu Naatu”), Best Documentary Feature Film (Shaunak Sen’s All That Breathes), and Best Documentary Short (Kartiki Gonsalves-directed The Elephant Whisperers).