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'Jane' TIFF 2017 Review: From Chimpan-Jane to Chimpanzee

September 25, 2017Siobhán Finn

Documentarian Brett Morgen is perhaps best known for his films about rock stars like the Rolling Stones, so when he chose to document the life of famed primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, many questioned his sudden shift. What those people didn’t appreciate is that, in some circles, Jane is a rock star.

Narrated by Goodall herself and assembled from over 140 hours of footage shot by her ex-husband, wildlife photographer Hugo van Lawick, Jane is a scripted docudrama waiting to happen. This movie explores her life, from her early days as the protégé of noted paleoanthropologist and archeologist Louis Leakey and her time observing chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park, to her decade-long marriage to van Lawick and what she learned about motherhood from Gombe's alpha female chimp, Flo.

Set to a score by Philip Glass, van Lawick’s stunning footage was originally shot on 16mm and was only recently uncovered by the National Geographic Society after 50 years. The result is an incredible peek into the life of one of the greatest living anthropologists of all time, not to mention one of the best documentaries of the year.

Jane is receiving its world premiere as part of TIFF 2017's TIFF DOCS programme. Its runtime is 1 hr. 30 min.

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