Chimpanzee_QuadWhen director/producer Mark Linfield talks about the process of making Disneynature’s Chimpanzee he speaks of filmmaking by evolution. He would like the film’s audience to understand that, counter-intuitively, for animals to behave naturally before the eyes of the world they must first be used to having the eyes of men trained upon them. The idea of safari-suited filmmakers trekking deep into the rainforest and simply ‘discovering’ their quarry is a romantic fallacy.  The worldwide search for a group of chimps – who would not only tolerate cameras but go about their day in spite of them – led Linfield and co-director Alastair Fothergill to the heart of The Tai Forest. Access to this vast UNESCO World Heritage Site, in The Republique de Cote-d’Ivoire, required fourteen hours of grueling travel from the nearest city. But the reward for their trek was the painstaking work world renowned chimpanzee expert Christophe Boesch had already undertaken in the region, following and observing the chimps there: gaining acceptance for his benign presence and beginning the thirty year evolution that would eventually allow the world to share in the unique friendship of Oscar and Freddy and in the wonder of Chimpanzee.

CHIMPANZEEWe sat down with Mark and Alastair, following a screening and Q&A for Chimpanzee, at The Barbican last weekend. They talked about the good works this enchanting family movie has already supported and about the part we can each play in effecting a change. The pair were joined by legendary naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. Sir David – who has worked extensively with both filmmakers – was profoundly moved by the footage that Alastair, David and his team captured but is disheartened by the dramatic fall in the chimp population since his last expedition to see the animals in the wild more than 20 years ago. It is quite astounding to note that in 1960 there CHIMPANZEEwere a million chimpanzees in the wild, when today just a fifth of that number remain. During the Q&A he was emphatic in his belief that we owe a duty of care to chimpanzees – in the wild and in captivity. For too long, he said, they have been misrepresented, mistreated and killed. He drew particular attention to the horrific suffering of chimps used for animal experimentation and spoke out in support of The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and the game-changing part they are playing in conserving the lives of these remarkable creatures. Later, in conversation with us, he was surprised to discover that his boundless enthusiasm for ooze had had a rather profound effect…

Our review of Chimpanzee is live here and the film lands in UK cinemas tomorrow 3rd May.

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Emily Breen began writing for HeyUGuys in 2009. She favours pretzels over popcorn and rarely watches trailers as she is working hard to overcome a compulsion to ‘solve’ plots. Her trusty top five films are: Betty Blue, The Red Shoes, The Princess Bride, The Age of Innocence and The Philadelphia Story. She is troubled by people who think Tom Hanks was in The Philadelphia Story and by other human beings existing when she is at the cinema.