Melbourne International Film Festival – Day Six

Melbourne International Film Festival – Day Six. By Simon Miraudo.

Sweet release! After days of endless movie watching, I felt the need to temporarily take a break from the cinema and recalibrate my now-square eyes to their traditional circular form. Don’t get me wrong … I still went to the movies (there ain’t no real break when you’re trying to watch 60 films in 17 days), but I only saw the one film as opposed to the four or five features that I’ve been averaging the past five days. Below, you’ll find a report on my 21st film of the fest, and then handy links to my fellow Melbourne International Film Festival blog-a-thoners. Now, to sleep, perchance to dream of apes. Damn dirty apes!

21) Project Nim

Project Nim is the new film from director James Marsh, who gave us the Oscar-winning doco Man on Wire back in 2008. As it stands, he’s perhaps the only documentary filmmaker who can get away with reenactments. His latest picture tells the story of a chimpanzee named Nim; plucked as a baby from his mother and raised like a human child as part of a Columbia University experiment. With little regard made for his heartbroken mother, or with any foresight as to how this separation would affect him in later years, Nim Chimpsky was put in the care of a hippie family. The matriarch allowed Nim to suckle her breast for milk, while the rest of the clan tried to teach the chimp how to use sign language. In a pattern that would repeat itself no matter whose care he was in, Nim eventually turned violent (as animals are wont to do) and was cast out from his new home. Marsh introduces us to the key carers in Nim’s life, mostly scientists and animal lovers, each of whom show deep remorse for the way in which they betrayed their subject by treating him … well, by treating him as a subject. It’s a slickly made doco, specifically designed to tug on the heartstrings. I would have liked to have seen how living with a chimp affected the lives of the humans; although we learn how much they love him, as well as how sad they made him, I was curious as to what toll caring for a baby animal (not as a pet, but as a child) would have taken on the carers. There have been similar experiments in the past, where an infant chimp was raised with a human baby, and the baby began taking on the traits of the chimp instead of the other way around. Regardless, this absence of scientific observation is excised in favour of emotional resonance, and Project Nim has that in spades. For a movie about an ape, it sheds an interesting light on humanity. Animals may be wild, but only humans are cruel.

Have you been keeping up with the other 60 Films in 17 Days bloggers? You should be!

Luke Buckmaster, over at Crikey blog Cinetology, shook his hips to Elvis.

Thomas Caldwell, over at Cinema Autopsy, seriously envies James Taylor’s good looks.

Glenn Dunks, over at Stale Popcorn, meets an … ahem … fan?

Jess Lomas, over at Watch Out For, is no longer sure what day of the week it is.

Brad Nguyen, over at Screen Machine, gets told off for talking during the ads.

Previously:

Opening Night
Day One

Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

Discuss: Which films have you seen so far?

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