CPH:DOX. Where elephants go to die

CPH:DOX. Where elephants go to die

After a devastating earthquake, Nga, an old elephant and probably the last of its species, and Sanra his mahout, are about to embark on a journey to find the mythical elephant’s graveyard. But a group of poachers are following them, and a cat and mouse game ensues. 


As fantastical as it is heartbreaking, with the brilliant soundwork of Chris Watson adding to the sensory overload, the poachers die, one after other in mysterious circumstances, at which point the spectator is led solo towards an  inevitable terminus, a place representing both mourning and reincarnation. 


The film was ten years in the making and succeeds in weaving together field recordings from around the globe, recorded and mixed by Watson in collaboration of professor Tony Myatt (Professor of Ambisonics at Surrey University)Cemetery is produced by UK producer Elena Hill.


The essence of Cemetery is found where forms meet, and depending on viewpoint or inclination that form can be documentary, fantasy, experimental, road movie or soundscape. In any case, the film poses fundamental questions on axiomatic themes, such as the cycle of life, the essence of memory, the relationship between species and the environment.


The genesis of this film started as a mystery to me and became evident only long after the research started, when I was confronted again with the film Tarzan, it was there that I understood that those films left a huge imprint on me, as a child, they left a seed that finally was blooming, I wanted to finally uncover that mystery and truly honor it with a film, a film that somehow could bring back that mystery back to life,” comments Casas on a work that received its UK premiere at the Tate Modern in London.


For years I watched and experimented with those films, those classic adventure films, trying to crack their secrets their inherent structures and moods, I read the lost world literary classics trying to comprehend those ideas of nature those stories of jungle exotica and exploration,” he continues.


In my last documentary films I have dealt with the most archaic and remote locations of the world. I have somehow travel in time to other periods, to ancient lifestyles, looking for an answer to the idea of the end of the world. Those myths that populate our souls, those ideas those memories or mind hunts is what interest me, because they hold a secret that should be recoded for future generations.”


He adds: “Formally and aesthetically the film wants to break certain laws of the cinematic experience. It wants to become somehow a rite of passage for the spectator, a journey of cinematic influences. From the early influences of classic adventure films to experimental classics, somehow the film follows a personal cinematic evolution as spectator. 


“The film is also a sort of cemetery for all these films, they will all be condensed and present… As skeletons they will provide us with an ivory treasure, maybe a discovery of a new audiovisual experience, in between a fiction film, a science fiction documentary and a hypnosis session.