Ashley Bell is a working actress with 15 years of credits, but recently, she veered off into new territory as a director. The result is an elephant rescue documentary, "Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story," that's heading back into theaters.
The film takes us on a journey to Thailand, exposing the fate of elephants there. While African elephants are often poached for their ivory, the film explains Asian elephants are captured from the wild to be used as service animals or are put on display in zoos and circuses.
"We update our electronics all the time, but we don't necessarily update the way we look at animals and the way we regard the environment," Bell said. "And these elephants are endangered across Asia, and people are demanding that these elephants just be elephants."
Bell wanted to tell their story, but the first-time director, who's also a writer and a producer on the documentary, wanted to tell it in a way she believed would make more people want to see it.
"I wanted to keep this film low on graphic content and high on solution and on action so that people won't be scared to watch the film," Bell said. "They can feel empowered and know what they can do to help the species."
"I took three guys into the jungle, and this is what we got," Bell added.
You'll see Bell, her crew and a team of rescuers, led by renowned Asian elephant conservationist, Lek Chailert, set out on a 48-hour mission across Thailand to rescue a 70-year-old Asian elephant, hoping to offer her a new life at the sanctuary.
"Lek says, 'I'm a freight train,' and that's exactly what she is. She doesn't stop," Bell said. "I think she's under five feet, and she's this indomitable spirit fighting every day on the front lines to save this species."
"Love & Bananas" goes back to the big screen for a week beginning Friday, meaning it will qualify for Oscar consideration.
'Love & Bananas' documentary reveals struggle of Asian elephants