One Day I Saw 10000 Elephants

A mesmerising expedition into the heart of colonial Africa

One Day I Saw 10000 Elephants Spanish filmmaker Manuel Sanjuán was drawn to colonial Africa by rumours of a mysterious lake where it was said 10,000 elephants lived. He hired a young guide, Guinean Angono Mba. 70 years later, Angono relives their journey. Carefully crafted through animation, photographs, and Manuel’s footage, this creative doc is both a magical tale of the power of myths and a raw account of the realities of life under colonialism.

Following the river deep into the forests of Equatorial Guinea, Angono and his 'massa', Manuel Sanjuan, search for the elusive sight of 10,000 elephants. Whilst Angono is sensitive to the breath-taking natural phenomena of his country, Massa Sanjuan struggles to comprehend his porter's world. Angono realises that, in an environment shaped by racial and cultural divisions, what is apparent to one man may be invisible to another. He realises that Massa 'thought like a white man, and so he could never see'.

Angono's deeply personal interview transports him back to the arrival of Spanish ships on Guinean shores. 'From the moment I saw iron float, I knew that our lives would never be the same again' recounts the old man as he looks back on his past. He remembers the gesture of hospitality his people extended to their future masters, explaining that the new arrivals 'set foot on dry land with the help of our shoulders and arms'. Charting the gradual oppression of his people, Angono describes the painful process of colonisation imposed by the Europeans.

Angono recounts poignant stories of Asuanguan, a servant girl mistreated in a white household, and Alu, a deaf-mute man exiled for following instructions he was unable to refuse – stories which reflect the experiences of a multitude of Guinean people subjected to colonial cruelty.

The enduring ​friendship between Angono and Massa Sanjuan takes the men across the country, from deprived leper colonies to tribes in the heartland of Guinea, where Sanjuan films the ritual dances of the tribespeople. Each man tries to appreciate the other's way of thinking, with limited success: 'I learned how to read and write, but I never ever managed to understand them'.


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The Producers


After studying directing and production for films, he specialized in motion graphics. Working as a designer and director, he had to become a producer. His grandma calls him "antsy-pants": he's worked for TV channels, production com-panies, design studios and advertising agencies in several audiovisual projects.

His works have been screened in noted film festivals such as San Sebastián Film Festival, Mar de Plata Film Festival, Tallin's Dark Nights Film Festival, FICMA, European Media Art Festival, Barcelona Art Contemporary Festival and he's re-ceived awards from Greenpeace, Laus Awards and Audiovisual Market from Cata-lunya.


A Designer who combines filmmaking with paper engineering, web development, animation, interior design and industrial design amongst others, Juan Pajares lends a ‘Just do it work’ attitude his work, often characterized by action, flexibility, multidisciplinary capacity, devotion and empathy to others. In his work, he incorporates the use of organic materials such as paper, wood and thread combined with digital tools (camera, scanner and computer).

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