Balakrishna

Runtime: 17 mins
Directors:  Colin MacKenzie + Aparna Kapur

An extraordinary new resident arrived in the town of East River, Nova Scotia, in 1967: Balakrishna, an Indian elephant. In Hindu and Buddhist culture, the elephant is a symbol of prosperity, so an Indian businessman brought Balakrishna to attend the opening of his new factory. No one was more in awe of the creature than young Winton Cook, and a wonderful affection grew between the boy and his mammoth new friend. Using painterly animation, photographs and home-movie treasures, Balakrishna transmits the wistfulness of childhood memories, while evoking themes of friendship and loss, and issues of immigration and elephant conservation.

DIRECTORS – Colin MacKenzie + Aparna Kapur

Aparna Kapur is a Vancouver-based filmmaker originally from New Delhi, India. Her 2008 graduation film, Amma, won the Best Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award at the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival. A lovingly hand-drawn animated short, the film is about a young girl’s life and her magical connection to her grandmother. After completing her foundation year in Bangalore, India, Aparna studied sculpture in Atlanta, Georgia. Her love of storytelling led her to pursue film and animation at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. Balakrishna is the first film she’s co-directed, and her first NFB-produced project.


Colin Mackenzie is an award-winning storyteller working in a range of genres, from documentary films to music videos. As a filmmaker, he’s had a long collaborative association with master drummer Jerry Granelli, directing an award-winning experimental film with the musician at its centre, followed by a CBC documentary that more fully explored Granelli’s artistic journey. Colin’s subject matter varies greatly, from a skateboard/dance documentary for the BRAVO network to the short film Cogswell, based on a one-woman play by writer/broadcaster Stephanie Domet. Colin has also produced radio documentaries for the CBC’s Inside the Music, as well as a series of podcasts that retold the stories of Canada’s WWII veterans, created for The Memory Project and aired on CBC Radio One.