Primate Cinema: How to Act Like an Animal

In the video, “How to Act like an Animal,” workshop participants in Los Angeles reenact a clip from a wildlife documentary. The clip depicts chimpanzees hunting a red colobus monkey and then eating the meat. The clip is excerpted from the 1995 National Geographic documentary The New Chimpanzees that was shot at Jane Goodall’s research site in Gombe, Tanzania, and features the community she researched for over thirty years.

In the video, the documentary sequence plays through three times on one channel, while the performers are seen acting in real time in relation to the footage on a second channel. The first loop shows the workshop actors watching the monitor showing the clip. The second time through, the actors have been directed to simply “act like the chimpanzees.” In the third instance, actors are assigned roles of individual chimps, and the video is edited shot by shot.


All content © Copyright 2016 by Rachel Mayeri.
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