Primate Cinema: Apes as Family
by Rachel Mayeri
USA/Great Britain 2012, 11 minutes
Put yourself in the skin of a chimpanzee, because this film was made for chimpanzees. Clara, the chimpanzee girl, grew up for six years in a normal human house, not in a zoo. She likes to sleep in bed, watch TV and clean the bathroom. Everything is fine until the day a group of other chimpanzees invades her home. They start in the living room, making noise, romping, climbing, smashing things. Carla wakes up regarding the mess and does not know what to do. Eventually she joins those creatures – who are not animals but actors in disguise – and tries to communicate. She sees them also on the TV set, there is no escape, and she has to face them. It’s part of the plan to set Carla free, she has to learn to struggle for food and power to survive in the chimpanzee world. Director Rachel Mayeri (43) shows this experiment from a distance with few close-ups. A voice-off is explaining the life of chimpanzees. We learn how important the old male is and how chimpanzees integrate a new member into the group. After a while Carla feels comfortable with the false chimpanzees. She even decides to sleep with them in the living room. But when she wakes up, they are all gone. Carla is confused – and the viewer, too.