About the Film

Elemental tells the story of three individuals united by their deep connection with nature and driven to confront some of the most pressing ecological challenges of our time.

The film follows Rajendra Singh, an Indian government official gone rogue, on a 40-day pilgrimage down India’s once pristine Ganges river, now polluted and dying. Facing community opposition and personal doubts, Singh works to shut down factories, halt construction of dams, and rouse the Indian public to treat their sacred “Mother Ganga” with respect. Across the globe in northern Canada, Eriel Deranger mounts her own “David and Goliath” struggle against the world’s largest industrial development, the Tar Sands, an oil deposit larger than the state of Florida. A young mother and native Denè, Deranger struggles with family challenges while campaigning tirelessly against the Tar Sands and its proposed 2,000-mile Keystone XL Pipeline, which are destroying Indigenous communities and threatening an entire continent.

And in Australia, inventor and entrepreneur Jay Harman searches for investors willing to risk millions on his conviction that nature’s own systems hold the key to our world’s ecological problems. Harman finds his inspiration in the natural world’s profound architecture and creates a revolutionary device that he believes can slow down global warming, but will it work?

Separated by continents yet sharing an unwavering commitment to protecting nature, the characters in this story are complex, flawed, postmodern heroes for whom stemming the tide of environmental destruction fades in and out of view – part mirage, part miracle.

Watch The Trailer

Film Subjects

Deranger

Eriel Deranger

Eriel Deranger is a young leader from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in northern Alberta, Canada. Working with international NGOs and her local communities, she has fought to stop water pollution, protect land rights and protect indigenous communities from the impacts of Tar Sands development. She was one of a handful of indigenous activists who started the movement to stop pipeline expansion across North America, including the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. A mother of two, she lives in Edmonton and continues to work on behalf of her community and the sweeping Idle No More movement.

Singh

Rajendra Singh

Rajendra Singh is a water conservationist from India known as “The Water Gandhi” for reviving seven rivers in Rajasthan and rescuing hundreds of rural villages from drought. Over the last decade, Singh has turned his attention to reviving his country’s most vital river — the Ganges — upon which more than 500 million people depend. Leveraging his national stature and government position as a member of the National Ganga River Basin Authority, Singh has stopped the construction of dams, closed polluting factories, and inspired thousands of men and women around India to become stewards of their rivers.

Harman

Jay Harman

Jay Harman is a prolific, award-winning inventor and entrepreneur who finds inspiration in nature. After studying the ocean and marine life during childhood, Harman became a naturalist with the Australian Fisheries & Wildlife Service. He battled illegal poachers and mining companies for years before determining he could best protect the environment by working with market forces, rather than against them. He’s since invented energy-efficient fans, pumps, and his famous “Lily Impeller” mixer – and set them all to market – through his engineering company PAX Scientific. Harman’s harnessing of nature’s principles is part of the fast-growing “biomimicry” movement and continues to drive him to make the industrial world more sustainable.

Filmmakers

  • Gayatri Roshan : Director/Producer

    Gayatri started her career in London where she produced over 50 television and radio commercial campaigns for Sony BMG, Universal Music, Virgin Music and numerous top bands, including Outkast and Pink. In 2005 she cofounded the Species Alliance, with whom she wrote and produced a documentary, Call of Life. In 2008/9 she wrote and produced A Thousand Suns (PBS) and Peace Wanted Alive (Link TV). In 2010, she completed work as producer and executive producer of Harmony, a feature length documentary inspired by and in collaboration with the Prince of Wales that aired for NBC’s 2010 Green Week.

  • Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee : Director/Producer/Co-Composer

    Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee is a director, producer, musician, and composer. He has directed and produced numerous award-winning films Elemental (2012), (Yukon Kings (2013), (Thousand Suns (2009), What Would It Look Like (2009), A Game For Life (2008), Barrio de Paz (2007)). He also the founder and executive editor of The Global Oneness Project, a Webby Award-winning online magazine. Prior to his work in film, Emmanuel performed and recorded as a sideman with some of the biggest names in Jazz, as well as releasing two critically acclaimed records under his own name Previous Misconceptions (2002) and Borrowed Time (2005).

  • Emily Topper : Director of Photography

    Emily topper earned her undergraduate degree in English Literature and Writing from Swarthmore College.  She began film as an Associate Producer on such PBS documentaries as Gay Bingo (2000) and Mural (2001).  In 2004, she earned her MFA from the Cinema School at USC and began working as a cinematographer.  Recent work includes the music video, Happy Birthday Guadalupe, for the Killers, and a feature documentary, Ain’t in it for My Health: A Film about Levon Helm, which premiered at SXSW in 2010.  She is currently shooting a film in West Baltimore.

  • Pedro Kos : Editor

    Pedro Kos is a Brazilian born director and editor living in Los Angeles. He edited the Academy Award nominated documentary Wasteland directed by Lucy Walker. The film received numerous awards including the audience awards at both the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin Film Festival.  Most recently Pedro edited the documentary The Island President directed by Jon Shenk, which won the documentary audience award at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival. He has frequently collaborated with Sundance winning director Jessica Sanders and Academy Award winner Freida Lee Mock. He was the editor and second unit director on Ms. Mock’s Sing China! And previously he was the second unit director on Ms. Sanders new film March of the Living.  He began his career as an editor on the making of documentary to Terrence Malick’s The New World.

  • Scott Salinas : Co-Composer

    Scott is graduate of Princeton University and Berklee College of Music where he studied jazz guitar, composition and film scoring.  In 2002, Scott was the youngest composer to be named Grand Prize Winner in the Turner Classic Movies Young Film Composers Competition and was commissioned to compose several original scores to classic silent films such as Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928) starring Lon Chaney and Loretta Young and the dark Parisian romance The Red Lily (1924). In 2003, Scott moved to Los Angeles where he has since composed music for commercials, television and over a dozen feature films. His most recent film work includes: all time most viewed film on Hulu, Strictly Sexual, the heart-wrenching HBO documentary, The Kids Grow Up, and the 2012 Sundance Film Festival darling, Hello I Must be Going.