Synopsis by Mark Deming
Wild animals unite to free one of their own in this adventure tale for the whole family filmed in the Zulu country of Africa. Tutu is a baby elephant growing up on the African savanna with his older brother, Zef. Tutu and Zef live a carefree life, playing together and having fun with the other animals living nearby, including chimps, giraffes, lions, and rhinos. However, Tutu and Zef's lives take an unpleasant turn when their mother is captured by poachers, who they call "the badness." With the help of some of their animal friends who have already been orphaned, the elephants set out to find their mom and bring her back home. Elephant Tales was shot in Kenya using rescued wild animals who were not trained in the conventional sense, but allowed to plot their own movements. When certain actions were requited for the sake of the story, they were subtly guided through play and interaction with their minders rather than rote memorization. Elephant Tales received its North American premiere at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.