Film Threat archive logo


By Mark Bell | January 20, 2013

Billed as the “world’s first narrative short domestic drama specifically for the chimpanzee demographic,” filmmaker Rachel Mayeri’s Primate Cinema: Apes As Family is a meta-study of chimpanzees in captivity watching said short domestic drama, intercut with footage from the short itself. As the tale of a chimp named Karla, who has to deal with the home invasion of some unruly primates, plays out, the captive audience alternately attacks the TV screen, stares at it and eventually begins mimicking the actions of the characters on screen.

Thus is an entirely unique short that lives up to its billing, raising questions about the effects of media on our chimpanzee relatives. For example, you could point to the eventual mimicry of the actions on screen as an obvious reference that the imagery is not something passively experienced, and could have a very real effect on the chimps involved.

Does this effect exist because the short was crafted specifically after much study of chimpanzees in captivity? Does such media manipulation or tailoring correlate to humans too? The influence of media on humans is a very real question and debate currently, and seeing how chimpanzees react gives pause.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. K. Tepner says:

    I’m a volunteer here at Chimps Inc in Bend, Oregon. Is there any place we could buy a copy of the short domestic drama Primate Cinema: Apes as Family?
    Thank you

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon