I saw the movie Chimpanzee during the Environmental Film Festival at Yale. Visually it is absolutely stunning and I hope people will see it for that reason alone. I ran into a colleague on the way into the theater and she said she thought she would see me at the "cheezy chimp" movie. I actually thought it wouldn't be "cheezy" and I was wrong. It is a Disney film after all and it is aimed at young people. But the story is based on the real altruism of adult male chimpanzees who have adopted orphans as observed by Christophe Boesch and his team in the Tai Forests in Cote d'Ivoire.
The audience was filled with youngsters and I have to confess I felt joy hearing the children in the audience laughing as the young chimpanzees on the screen laughed and played.
But I did experience a tad bit of discomfort at times watching the audience react to the film. As many of us are working hard to end the use of chimpanzees in entertainment, I think this film walks a fine line. It is designed to entertain and chimpanzees are the entertainment.
So I think it is crucial that at every opportunity people who are talking about the film remind film watchers that no part of this film used captive chimpanzees, that chimpanzees are endangered in the wild, and that they need our help. I wish there was more information available in the theater for movie goers who are interested in learning more about ways to help chimpanzees. I'm going to go to see the film again during the first week (portions of the proceeds from admission will go to JGI projects) and bring some flyers. Maybe the theater will keep the extras for other shows.