Documentary - Completed 2014

The Chimpanzee Complex is a science fiction documentary about a psychiatric institution for traumatized chimpanzees.

& Awards

CPH: DOX 2014
Special Screenings Program
Thessaloniki IFF 2015
Habitat + WWF programs
DocAviv 2015
Special Screenings
Open City Doc FF London 2015
Official Selection
Sheffield Doc Fest 2015
Euro Doc Strand
    • Year of production
    • 2014
    • Genres
    • Documentary, Social issues
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 0.3 - 0.6 M$
    • Duration
    • 75 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Marc SCHMIDT
    • Writer(s)
    • Marc SCHMIDT
    • EIDR 10.5240/65DA-F7B4-78A4-9919-A9D6-D
    • Producer(s)
    • Simone VAN DEN BROEK (Basalt Film), Vadim JENDREYKO (Mira Film)
    • Synopsis
    • The main characters in The Chimpanzee Complex are chimpanzees that, after years in solitary captivity, must learn to live with members of their own species again. This rehabilitation takes place in a sanctuary where neglected and traumatized apes are cared for. Many of the chimps were taken from the wild at a very young age and subsequently used as pets, laboratory subjects or circus acts. As a result, they never learnt any practical or social skills as apes and have no experience living with members of their own species. They are introduced to other chimpanzees for the first time, through a carefully supervised process of re-socialisation. Individual chimpanzees are gradually introduced to one another, the ultimate goal being that they will eventually form their own group together. However, the chimps have become very humanized and often don’t understand each other, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts. The Chimpanzee Complex follows the entire journey of the chimpanzees’ care and re-socialisation. This process forms the spine of the plot: Will the new chimp eventually be accepted by the other chimps?
      The film follows the adventures of the chimpanzees and tries to establish identification through their emotions and motivations. People fulfil an important but supplementary role by explaining the chimpanzees’ behaviour and commenting on the sidelines. The care team steers the re-socialisation process and it can be seen how they move the chimpanzees from one area to another, how they interpret their behaviour and discuss what to do: which chimps will be placed together? Who is taken out of the group, temporarily or not? The re-socialisation of the chimps is a complex puzzle and its outcome is never certain.
      In addition to practical situations, the carers reflect in stylised interviews on the philosophical issues the chimpanzees raise. Far away from their daily jobs, they are asked what separates us from chimpanzees. Are the monkeys self-aware? Do they have an understanding of right and wrong? Is it even possible for humans to understand chimpanzees and their interactions? Precisely because of our close relation to them it’s the question if we can avoid projecting our own ideas and emotions onto these animals. Anthropomorphism - attributing human traits to other, non-human, beings – plays a crucial role at this underlying, reflective level of the film.
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