Trailer Debut: Project Nim

Man On Wire, 2008 British filmmaker James Marsh’s documentary on the (slightly insane) French acrobat Philippe Petit, who in 1974 accomplished a high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre, was excellent viewing. Thrilling and humanising in equal amounts, Marsh did well to uncover the emotions and dreams behind what the public at large regarded as an incredibly dangerous and silly stunt.

Another stunt many thought dangerous and silly was a controversial Columbia University experiment in the 1970s that involved a chimpanzee, Nim Chimpsky, being brought up as a human in an Upper West Side family. Marsh tells the story of this experiment in Project Nim, retrospectively considering the success of science’s bid to bridge the communication gap between humans and animals.

Project Nim is structured as a biopic, and from the trailer it looks as if Nim’s story is told through interviews with the key people in his life (“There was no discussion really. We had a chimp in the house. We were going to teach it sign language”), interspersed with archival footage.

Check out the trailer below.

You can also watch it in HD over at Apple.

The Oscar-winning director is sure to delve into big issues regarding the nature of humanity, and, whilst it looks like there are some light-hearted moments (“Nim likes alcohol. He loooves driving fast cars”), Project Nim is more than likely to follow Man on Wire’s lead – i.e. we will witness Marsh probing into the more unsettling, dark side of human nature and exposing the dangers of human ambition.

Of course, this isn’t the first film to be made about a primate in the Big Apple – but something is telling us Project Nim is destined to be a lot less forgettable than Dunston Checks In.

Project Nim will make its Australian debut at the Sydney Film Festival next month.

Discuss: Will Project Nim be the best filmic investigation into the relationship between humans and primates since Gorillas In The Mist/Monkey Trouble?

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