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When surfing the www this morning I came across great news, the DVD of Project Nim will be released on Amazon.co.uk in a little more than one month and can now be preordered. This might sound like no news to someone not familiar with the film, but I can assure you this is a film every documentary enthusiast should see. Project Nim is the most recent documentary of James Marsh who is one of the biggest names in documentary film in recent times. Marsh won himself 26 awards for his last doc Man on Wire, among the awards were the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2009, and a BAFTA for Best British Film. The film is about a group of French artists who assisted aerialist Philippe Petit to cross a wire between the Two Towers on New York in 1974. The film was screened worldwide and was “one of the top-grossing documentary films of the last five years”.
Project Nim is about one of the most radical experiments of its kind, namely to raise a chimpanzee as a human child. In 1973 a chimpanzee is taken from its mother and put into care of a lady at her home in New York where she lives with her three children. The chimpanzee called Nim is taught sign language and the hope was that through sign language, Nim would gain enough words and grammar to be able to express his thoughts and feelings to humans. But as expected, not everything goes according to plans, and Nim´s animal nature can´t be suppressed. Nim has “behavioural issues” and five years in the experiment, it comes to an end because lack of funding. Nim is taken back to the primate research center in Oklahoma where he was born, where for the first time in his live, he has to live with fellow chimpanzees. That is just the start of a different life he has not experienced before, or what his caretakers and human friends foresaw.
Project Nim has received great reviews and been screened at several film festivals world wide; Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award, Sheffield Doc/Fest, CPH:DOX, Reykjavík International Film Festival among other film festivals.
Following is a trailer for Project Nim. Above is a still from the poster for film.